I just finished watching a video on a friend’s wall. It was the one about the professor who said to all his classes God doesn’t exist and to prove it I’m going to drop a piece of chalk. You’ve seen that one right? Anyway the basic story in this “video” (I use quotes because it’s all text, and no actual “video” takes place) is that the professor challenges anyone who believes in God to stand up. If any brave soul faced his wrath, he would claim that God couldn’t exist. He would make the ridiculous claim that, if He did exist, he would stop a piece of chalk from shattering when it hit the ground, all at the command of the all-knowing college professor. Finally, after years and years of this guy making a plethora of God-disproving chalk marks on the ground, one kid stands up, and when the Professor drops the chalk, it doesn’t break. The message is, “Stand up for your faith.” All in all, a good little story that is most likely, in my opinion, stretched far from the truth to be more dramatic than it actually was. But, we’ll forgive the makers of this video for that because God doesn’t care if we lie in order to get people to talk about Him, it’s only the end result He cares about (<- that’s sarcasm for those who didn’t realize).
Here’s my main problem with this “video” (as if lying in order to “inspire” weren’t enough). The last two minutes and twenty seconds of this video are spent in “guiltifying” the viewer. It starts by saying that the viewer has two options: one he can pretend he never saw the video, or two, he can feel guilty enough to share it on his facebook wall (that’s not verbatim by the way). The very obvious problem is that there is a very obvious third option. You can contemplate what the video said and learn something from it, without cluttering up facebook. You can choose to say, “That was a pleasant video. I don’t think I enjoyed watching it enough to actually make someone else sit through it for 6 minutes, but I think I have learned something from this about standing up for my beliefs and defending them when they’re attacked.” You could also say “Hmmm… that was a great video, I think other people should see this video because they might also enjoy, and possibly learn something from, it.” Unfortunately what most people end up saying is, “Wow, I feel really guilty… I think I’m going to post this on my friends’ facebook walls, not because I actually want these people to hear the Gospel, but because I feel guilty for not wanting to share this video.” This is the WRONG response. This is not a good response to any video promoting any truth, especially the truth of the Gospel. If the makers of this video had merely let the truth and inspiration of the story stand on its own, there wouldn’t be any guilt to begin with.
Many similar photos, videos, and statuses have this common problem: the guilt factor. Somewhere in the piece of media it is made clear that, if the viewer does not copy and paste it somewhere, they are a less valuable human being, they are a human being who does not follow their convictions, or they are a more cowardly human being than if they do. Let me be clear right now: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE THAT PICTURE UNLESS YOU WANT TO. God doesn’t love you less because you didn’t copy a status onto your timeline, Satan doesn’t like you more when you keep scrolling past a picture of a bible verse, and Santa Clause will not put you on the naughty list for skimming over video of a baby laughing. It has become a trend to write “Share this if you agree” at the end of 50% of our facebook statuses, and it puts the reader in a difficult, and annoying position.
This phenomenon also taps into human nature, because every single person’s initial response to a directive is to say “no.” It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of making the reader dislike the writer. I myself never forward posts of this nature and once in a while the reason is simply the smug little thought, “You can’t tell me what to do,” when in reality that thought shouldn’t have needed to enter my mind. Whatever that piece of media was promoting should have been inspiring, or funny, or important, or worthwhile enough to share purely because of its contents.
I realize the irony of what I’m about to do, but I have copied a link to the specific video I was ranting about in the first paragraph. I figured you might want to know exactly what I was talking about. Through this irony I might have discovered a way around the guilt factor. Just write a two-page paper talking about how you don’t think we should guilt people into sharing videos before sharing the video…. just an idea.