Emotional Blackmail on Social Media

A page I like recently shared a story about a beloved pet being bashed to death by a boy on the owner’s driveway. This story was given as proof that your pets should be indoor only.

I am generally not willing to enter into a debate about pets being allowed outdoors or not, and have no intention of doing so here, but I was disturbed by this story and equally disturbed by its use. This horrific tale being used in this way was, to me, the most basic form of emotional blackmail. To say a young boy bashing your pet’s head in is your fault for letting your pet outside in the first place is akin to victim blaming and, frankly, if my neighbour decided to bash my pet’s head in, I would be moving house pretty damn quickly.

Thinking about it further I realised a great many of the things we read on social media are emotional blackmail, and usually for reasons worse than encouraging people to keep their pets indoors. Often these stories are used as click bait, link bait, or a way to get shares and likes.

Statements like “share this to help cure cancer” or “like this photo to show your support” run rampant through our news feeds and we’ve become so numb to it we barely react at all.

I was recently accused of click bait by sharing the image and a quote from this post and I was taken aback – I didn’t think it was click bait as it was an accurate depiction of what the post was about. And while many other bloggers shared my view, a couple were uncomfortable with the image’s use across social media at all. Which I understand, it’s an emotional image and an emotional topic.

So why do we react when it’s an image shared to open discussion about a woman’s birthing choices and yet when it’s a disabled child you’re being asked to “like”, or a story about a dying woman you’re being asked to share do we not react at all?

Stella Young has often been known to speak out against “inspiration porn” saying “I am not here for your inspiration” and emotional blackmail sits at the heart of that.

It is not OK to share an image of a man with one leg and say that if he can do it you can too. It’s not OK to say a woman who is scantily clad deserves to be assaulted. And it’s not OK to say that because one animal was bashed to death, it’s your fault if yours is too.

It’s emotional blackmail. It’s victim blaming. It’s saying disabled people are extraordinary for doing everyday things. And it’s not OK.

I’m over this kind of shit in my news feed, and you should be too.

Do you see a lot of emotional blackmail or inspiration porn in your news feed? Are you sick of it?


  • http://claireyhewitt.blogspot.com/ ClaireyHewitt

    I see a lot of ignorant inaccurate posts in my fb feed. Some days when I have my cranky pants on I do reply, but I often remind myself that it just isn’t worth it.