Friday, July 08, 2016

A sense of priority, a sense of proportion

Yesterday I got a lovely photo of the little girl we sponsor through Compassion International.  I was so proud of it I posted it on Facebook with this, very honest, remark:

Compassion International allows people like us to make a difference in the lives of children like this little girl. For privacy I won't give her name but we are glad to sponsor her for just a little over a dollar a day. Legitimate research shows these programs do work to move children from poverty by providing educational resources, among other things. Compassion International is not the only one, but consider it! Not to preach, but if you buy expensive coffee every day, you would spend the same amount in less than two weeks on coffee than to sponsor a child.

So far I have gotten 16 likes and three comments.  

Last week I posted a photo of myself with a red clown nose (we threw a retirement carnival for the office admin assistant, who had been there 37 years--hard to believe).  I got 80 likes and 12 comments.

If a "friend" posts something about a hurt kitten who is rescued, it gets more likes than a child in Africa.  If I put a ridiculous selfie, I get six times as many likes.  An odd situation. 

OK, I get it--I dinged the Starbucks crowd; how dare I make a comment on paying $3.00 for a cup of coffee several times a week?  I won't apologize.  We do what we want and find myriad ways to justify ourselves.   Call it confirmation bias, locus of control, fundamental attribution error, whatever.  The heart is deceptively wicked, who can know it?  I could carpool and sponsor another child if I put my money where my mouth is, sure.

Another former colleague commented that when 200 people are killed in a bombing in Iraq, nobody puts the Iraqi flag on their photo on Facebook.  Fifty were killed in the Turkish airport; no "We are all Turkey" memes.  Absolutely.

We are faced this morning with two tragedies; an innocent black man was killed for no discernible reason by a white police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota, and it went viral, and a racist, evil  sniper killed five white police officers in a city 1000 miles away from there.  I wrote about faulty statistics the other day, so it is hard to know what really goes on in a country of 330 million, but it seems that white officers being killed by black people outnumbers the opposite; that in no way justifies the times when cops just  seem to lose control, let fear and primal instincts and probably racism take over and shoot black men to death.  It happened a few years back in Chattanooga and I doubt the policeman really paid for his crime from a sociological perspective; perhaps he did emotionally and psychologically.

Internet-based media totally skews our perceptions of reality, proportion, and priority; there is plenty of research to show that.  The plethora and proliferation of media/website options means we default to those that make us feel good about ourselves.  My only challenge is to get all the facts before writing something.  And I should take my own advice. 

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