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Facebook Status Charity Wars

My mother survived her battle with breast cancer last year and is, in every way, an inspiration. Likewise, my father beat colon cancer and, in the process, lost his foot to cardiovascular disease but hasn’t let it stop him in any way, shape or form. I note this only because everyone has their own stories, their own inspirations and their own causes.

For those unfamiliar, on Facebook, occasionally you will get an “in-box” message from a friend telling you what “code” to use to post cheeky status updates in support of ___________ (insert cause here – breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, shingles, etc…). Likewise, you will often see people post status updates in support of the causes that they are fond of, asking others to also copy and paste the verbiage in their own status update.

Sometimes, I play along, other times I just pass right by them…

I have one friend, Sally, who, each and every time one of these pops up, feels compelled to respond with something akin to: “Sorry, Betty. This ain’t my cause and I will do nothing to support it, regardless of how it may or may not have affected your life. My cause is Sally’sCause and Sally’sCause only and I can do, say or type nothing in support of anything other than Sally’sCause. Sorry if that upsets you, but that’s the way it is.”

I have no issue with her choosing her own worthy cause to support and, the cause that she has chosen, she does often raise money for in various ways and she is not, in fact, pushy or over-the-top in her solicitations. My issue is only with how snarky and borderline nasty her response is each and every time someone posts something or solicits donations for a cause other than the one that she has chosen to favor. Our one girlfriend’s father recently passed away after a debilitating illness and when my girlfriend chose to participate in a fundraising walk in his honor, Sally responded to her exactly the same way as she always does. I so badly wanted to call her up and scold her for being so insensitive and inconsiderate, but then decided that I might then be at fault for butting in.

Is she wrong for doing this? Is there any way that I can get her to understand that she doesn’t HAVE TO respond and that her lack of response will serve as her declination AND eliminate the possibility that she look like an insensitive louse? Please know that this particular friend is confrontational to the extreme, so treading carefully is absolutely necessary. 1107-11

I really dislike those guilt manipulative Facebook statuses that describe some heinous situation or cause and end with some guilt manipulative command that to copy this text into your own Facebook status with the implication that if you don’t you are are a callous, evil, indifferent person.  A friend of mine does this type of Facebook status very frequently.   When she posted one that said, paraphrased, “If you had cancer or know someone who has cancer or died of cancer, copy and paste this into your status.  Real friends and loved ones who deeply care about their friends and family will put this in their Facebook status but only 10% of you actually will do it.”      I privately emailed her writing, “I have had cancer, my sister-in-law and my father have died of cancer, my father-in-love has cancer and to imply that I do not care about them because I do not wish to cut and paste your status into my status is guilt manipulative and hurtful.”     She replied that her status was meant for a broader audience and that she wasn’t targeting me.   I am fully aware of that but that “broader audience” is her friends and family, not the general public.   She still posts statuses like this and I ignore them.

Is Sally wrong to reply as she does?  You betcha!  She’s involved herself in a Facebook status charity warfare pitting her favorite charity or cause against everyone else’s.   It’s one thing to use your personal Facebook wall to push your personal agendas but it’s entirely another “thing” when you traipse over to other people’s walls and push your personal agenda there.   Sally should learn to let it go and mind her own charity on her own wall.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Angela January 23, 2012, 4:39 pm

    I agree with Cat Whisperer. It sounds to me as though Sally is encouraging confrontation…”picking a fight” if you will. Best thing to do is to avoid…or remove as a friend!
    Alli-Wan, these are not messages really but someone you post on your own wall. They aren’t sent to anyone in particular and most of us ignore them

  • Serenity S. January 23, 2012, 5:46 pm

    I have copied and pasted a few of those statuses, but ignore most of them. I don’t really find it that offensive, personally. I do find that Sally’s response to the statuses makes it seem like she thinks that people are directing these appeals to her personally, she may not realize that everyone on the person’s friend list has it show up in their newsfeed. I wouldn’t say anything to her. Just ignore her comments.

  • OP January 23, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Me again!

    Truthfully, Sally and I are not terribly close…friends of friends. What spurred the question was NOT a desire to turn her into a home improvement project of my own making but, rather, the tearful phone calls that I got from two friends who had posted personal and earnest intents about causes that had touched them, personally, and got the rude, snarky, “not Sally’sCause so I don’t want to hear about it and think you shouldn’t waste your time on it” response from Sally. My advice to each of them was to ignore her and that she’s just “that way”, but wondered if there was a tactful way for me to remind SALLY that she could do that, too, instead of intentionally or unintentionally hurting anyone else’s feelings.

    As I noted, I ignore 99% of that clap-trap, myself, so I, personally, have never been hurt by her, nor would I be simply because of the distance in our relationship and the medium, as many have noted.

    I’m just going to keep telling the people that get their feelings hurt BY her to ignore her, as I have been. In reading all of the comments, I find some wisdom in the notion that some people just prefer to be confrontational and will leave her be.

  • sv January 23, 2012, 8:00 pm

    “Slacktivism” – love it.

    Like everyone else posting, I don’t like and don’t respond to those types of emails/status updates. However, I think the question here is really whether the OP would be rude to point out to Sally that her response is hurtful and unnecessary. I doubt very much that there is anything you can say or do to change Sally’s behaviour, OP. If she is as confrontational as she sounds you will likely be in for an argument you can’t win 🙂

  • --Lia January 24, 2012, 12:20 am

    I understand the OP’s question better now. There is something you can tell the friends who have called in tears due to Sally’s heartless responses. They can set their facebook pages in such a way that Sally never has to see their statuses or never has to see the statuses that have to do with their personal causes. This is better than ignoring Sally. It’s nipping the problem in the bud.

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn January 24, 2012, 1:17 am

    Sounds like Sally is nothing more than an internet troll who’s found a new forum to demand negative attention. She’s trying to start a fight where she gets to extoll all the virtues of her cause and generally drive everyone crazy while they get into a large internet fight over her comment.

    Ignore her. Trolls can’t exist in a vacuum.

  • Jelly Rose January 24, 2012, 5:05 am

    I have seen some of those copy and paste Facebook status things as well as the whole *Insert of combined of drink or bra color* to gain awareness for X… Never really understood those, like the one for breast cancer I sort of got. Logging in a few months back I saw someone have the status ‘Vodka and Red Bull’ nobody knew what it meant and I had to question the poster a couple of times to get and answer. (Being a bar tender I wanted to warn my friend it was dangerous since she didn’t seem to get it based of her posts being all ‘teehee this is fun!’) Her answer? ‘Oh you wouldn’t get it, it’s an awareness for X, that just left me stumped.

  • Melissa January 24, 2012, 8:10 am

    Just to chime in, the status update that really gets to me is the one that says that someone with cancer only cares about ONE thing–a cure for cancer. Somehow, I don’t think that’s true at all! People with cancer care about all sorts of things just like the rest of us.

  • MellowedOne January 24, 2012, 8:17 am

    OP, as regards your last post, I was wondering why you and your friends choose to allow Sally to remain on your friends list. From your postings, I get the impression that Sally at the very least is someone to tread lightly around, and at worse unfeeling and caustic.

    A persons’s FB page is like their home. They invite others to come over, friends both long-known and sometimes on a ‘let’s get to know each other better’ basis. It’s all in good fun, right? But what if a guest does something you do not like? If it’s minor enough, you may overlook it. But if it bothers you? Do you still ignore it? And if you learn that’s her usual style, do you keep allowing her in your home?

    OP, I’m not blaming you for Sally’s actions, just providing another perspective that may help you in dealing with her. I wish you success 🙂

  • ferretrick January 24, 2012, 9:12 am

    Is facebook faux pas it’s own category on this site yet? Because it really should be.

  • Bint January 24, 2012, 9:16 am

    If Sally posted that in response to something on my wall, rather than anything I’d sent to her, I’d probably post underneath saying ‘That’s great you support that, Sally, but please let me support my own causes on my own page’. If she did it again I’d email her privately, politely telling her to knock it off.

    However, it is not necessary to treat Sally with extreme caution just because she is confrontational. That’s exactly why she is, so that she can get away with crass behaviour. In your place I’d email her explaining about the girl’s father and saying ‘I assume from your response that you didn’t know that, so I thought you might like to take your post down’. But if Sally keeps this up, she will lose quite a few friends.

    Add me to the list of those who dislike the posts, especially the silly Breast Cancer ones. They do nothing, and I really object to the part about ‘don’t tell the boys’. Men get breast cancer too.

  • Gracie C. January 24, 2012, 10:24 am

    OP – two things you can advise your friends. As Lia said – you and your friends can edit the settings so that Sally cannot see your charity posts. You can do this with just the charity posts, or you can simply not allow her to see any of your posts.

    The other option, and frankly, I think it would be more effective, is to delete her comment from the post each time she makes it. You (or your friends – just using you for simplicity) have the right to control what is on your page. If she posts a snarky comment, delete it. You don’t have to delete your post, merely delete her comment. She might think that it didn’t go through and post it again – delete it again. Eventually she WILL get the point and either call you on it, in which case you can discuss it, or she’ll stop posting it since clearly she’s not being allowed a venue for her snark.

  • Carrie January 24, 2012, 11:39 am

    I like the direct approach.

    “Sally, why do you always feel the need to reply to Every. Single. One. of these posts. We get it, you like “x” charity and nothing else. You’re starting to sound like a broken record. If you don’t like these updates, simply block me. No one is forcing you to read every word I post. You may not be interested, but several other friends are so I will not stop updating on my favorite charity. This is my page and I will post what I please. I ask that you please do not leave these replys on my postings because I and several other friends already know how you feel. The subject is now closed, please respect my wishes.”

    And that’s it. Do not reply if she makes another snide comeback, and if she contines to do so, simply unfriend. She may love conflict and thrive on it, but if you give her no more than this and then act as if it doesn’t bother you anymore it will bug the hell out of her until she gives up. Sally sounds like a bully and I’ve dealt with more than a few adult bullies. Sometimes calling them out is the only thing that works.

  • David January 24, 2012, 12:01 pm

    I know that if I had posted a status update on my own wall that I was participating in a charity event because someone near to me had suffered and Sally commented on my wall post that she didn’t want to hear it because her ‘charity/cause was so much better and I needed to get over it and support her stuff’ it would leave me wit a really bad feeling. Not just for Sally, but for her charity/cause as well.

    Perhaps you could private message her that you are worried about the negative feelings towards her charity that her comments leave people with. After all, if she really supports that cause, she shouldn’t want to give it negative publicity.

  • The Elf January 24, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Although I agree that what Sally is doing is needlessly intrusive – just not responding is best unless solicited directly – I wonder if she isn’t doing this in part to be “fair”. When the schools do their fundraising, it seems like every parent is pushing an order book my way. To be fair and avoid accusations of office politics, I just back out of the lot. Your daughter is selling girl scout cookies? That’s nice, I hope she does well. Your son is selling wrapping paper? I’m sure it’s great, but I have enough, thank you. I can’t possibly afford to buy from everyone, so I buy from no one.

  • Enna January 24, 2012, 4:42 pm

    Sally’s post is rude if it is posted publically. Even if she sent a private message she should be careful how it is phrased. I can see why Admin ignores such posts and why she sent a private message voicing her feelings.

  • Mojo January 24, 2012, 4:49 pm

    After my friend discovered she was allergic to potatoes, she would go nuts every time someone offered her a chip. She’d scrunch up her face in shock and proclaim “I can’t eat that, I’m allergic to potatoes, even one little bit of potato starch could set me off..” and continue with a litany of her symptoms. The poor victim would get embarassed, and wouldn’t offer twice.

    Like the girl with the charity, she had no idea how to say a polite “No, thank you”. Some people just need the tiniest excuse to make a huge scene, and I’ve found there’s not much you can do, but move along.

  • Morgan Horse January 24, 2012, 5:56 pm

    On the topic: Sally’s behavior is mind-boggling. I can’t even imagine why she would think that making such a comment would be even the least bit appropriate.

    Off the topic: I read somewhere that Facebook is only as annoying as your “friends”. I have very few and very discerning “friends”, so haven’t encountered most of the posts of which everyone is writing. Sounds like it’s time to clean FB house, y’all!

  • grumpy_otter January 24, 2012, 7:39 pm

    I was 100% on Sally’s side until I realized that “Sally’scause” stood for a particular charity. (I think? Based on the OP’s and others’ comments?)

    In the first case, I thought Sally was trying to make a statement about how stupid and pointless these sorts of FB posts are–in which case I would support her 100%. Yeah, perhaps it’s rude a bit, but so is saying “If you don’t post this you don’t care!” I thought at first that Sally was trying a little personal rebellion against the perennial garbage.

    But if Sally writes “I will only support ‘American Cancer Society'” then she is just adding to the problem.

    Here’s the post I’d like to see in response to all such posts:

    “It is wonderful to try and raise awareness about YOURCAUSE. But seriously, copying a FaceBook post won’t do anything. If you truly believe in YOURCAUSE, get your lazy ass out in front of Congress with a sign, or gather signatures for a petition, or both.”

  • babs January 24, 2012, 9:48 pm

    For everyone who is saying Sally is rude but they can understand her frustration with getting these posts, please go back and read. Sally doesn’t have an issue with charity posts – as long as it’s HER’s! She takes advantage of the exposure that Facebook offers to raise funds for the charity of her choice, but whenever another one is posted (like the poor girl who had just lost her father and was taking part in a walk for that charity) for some reason she feels like she has to respond – in a seemingly snarky way.

    As far as the dumb status updates “If you don’t post this and leave it on your status for an hour, you’re ashamed of God and He will be ashamed of you!” (UGH!!!) there’s no way to get around these things if you enjoy participating in Facebook (which I really do). I believe most people post the stupid statuses because they feel guilted into it themselves. You just treat it like those obnoxious forwarded emails you get that tell companies like Microsoft actually track forwarded emails, and you’ll get thousands of dollars for forwarding them to all your friends. In fact, that’s what those status updates are… We’ve seen them in our emails for years, and now they’re just recycled for a different use.

    I ignore all of them, and if something really bothers me, I send a personal message to the friend. BTW, I did that recently and now she’s not speaking to me! lol… Deep friendship if it can be destroyed by an obnoxious Facebook status update! This, my friends, is what we’ve come to!

  • Hollanda January 25, 2012, 6:17 am

    I hate, hate, hate those. It’s the emotional blackmail at the end that makes my stomach turn. It’s playing on people’s consciences!!! Anyone who posts these things is clearly either under pressure from others to do so, or in the field of emotional blackmailing people themselves. Ugh! I like supporting charities whenever I can. I just resent being told that if I do not support such and such then that makes me one of the many insensitive souls that don’t, and if I do then I am one of the few sensitive souls that do. Whatever I choose to support is my business and I would not respond in any way at all to it.

  • Steph January 25, 2012, 9:09 am

    While I agree with others that Sally is probably looking for trouble, would it be possible for someone in the group of friends (just one person; no need to attack) to send her a message about their concerns?
    “Hey, you’ve been hurting some feelings. Could you tone it down a bit?”
    It doesn’t have to say whose feelings were hurt or go into detail. But maybe she doesn’t realize how rude she’s being. Maybe. Possibly.

  • Lucy January 25, 2012, 11:39 am

    OMG–Morgan Horse, you nailed it!

    My FB friends aren’t annoying. I unsub from those whom I don’t want to unfriend but whose updates I don’t want to see (endless gushing over SO’s, for example, or political posts with which I don’t agree. I don’t have to unfriend somebody because we disagree, and I’ll feel friendlier toward them if we don’t see each others’ political views). It’s not like Facebook owns you: You can control the content.

  • Cat Whisperer January 25, 2012, 5:30 pm

    OP, I read your posting. Regarding your tearful friends who got their feelings hurt by Sally’s response to them:

    Sally’s responses are apparently entirely impersonal, and are all about her her her Sally Sally SALLY. Your friends need to understand that when people who are egotistical and confrontational to this degree lash out and attack someone, the attack is (paradoxically) not about the person who is being attacked. It is about the attacker, who is asserting her (his) personality because (to them) nobody else matters.

    Once you understand this is the kind of person you are dealing with, you have broken the power this person has to hurt you. For someone to really be able to hurt you, there has to be a degree of personalization to their attack. Sally’s attacks are completely impersonal, since they are all about her. For that reason, you can reduce her snarkiness from something dreadful and hurtful to something more like the buzzing of a gnat.

    Kind of a side-note: it’s my observation that because of the impersonalness of e-media communications as compared to media where you have face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice communication, when you’re dealing with e-media, you need to become less sensitive. E-media communication lacks the nuances of facial expression and vocal expression, and all you have are the words. And it takes real skill and genuine thoughtfulness to create nuanced, sensitive e-media communications. Even the best communicators can easily err and create offense where none is intended.

    Personally, when I venture into the cyberworld, I (figuratively) don my (figurative) flameproof undies and (figurative) Kevlar body armor, and grab my (figurative) Teflon shield. Cybercommunications aren’t for the sensitive of spirit or the thin-skinned. JMO.

  • Syd January 26, 2012, 5:24 am

    Athena C: that would be ignorance rather than ‘awareness’, because AIDS is not an auto-immune disease. (It is a disease of the immune system, but they are not the same thing: AIDS prevents it from working properly, whereas in auto-immune conditions it turns on itself.) So the ‘awareness’ isn’t working.

  • MellowedOne January 26, 2012, 8:51 am

    morganhorse, re your “off-topic” comment….couldn’t agree more! Well said!

  • Mabel January 27, 2012, 8:45 am

    Wow. I think I would probably unfriend her, especially if she were someone I didn’t see IRL (in real life). If she keeps doing this, the Internet will take care of her. Wait until she posts something like this on a public forum and they pile on her like a hundred quarterbacks.