Will you be one of the 7% that reads this rant?

A couple of days ago, a couple of friends put the following on their status on Facebook:

People need to understand that children with special needs are not sick. They are not searching for a cure, just acceptance. This week is for special needs education. 93% percent of the people will not copy and paste this. Will you be part of the seven percent that will and will you leave it on your wall for at least an hour?

Now raising awareness and understanding is a fine thing, and I know and love the kids my friends were thinking of when they cut and pasted this message. Today’s topic is not the important subject of children with special needs, the above just happens to be the latest example of what I do want to talk about, which is how not to win people to your cause.

I’ll admit I’m fairly cynical of mouse-click activisim, avatar activism or any no-commitment, no-effort -isms. I think Lyz Lenz summed it up best when she tweeted, “I am pretty sure no matter what I put in my Facebook status, I won’t cure cancer, help Haiti or raise awareness for anything, except my Facebook status.”

But that’s just me (and Lyz). I’d rather you use your own words for something important to you, but if you want to cut and paste a status message concerning a cause you have some skin in, then go for it.

The bit that really raises my ire is the, “Will you be part of the seven percent that will and will you leave it on your wall for at least an hour?” How many emails, tweets or what-have-you have you seen that try to stick it to you with the “most people will just ignore this, will you?” line? How many of those have you sent? It reminds me of the old, “If you forward this email, Bill Gates will personally send you a new mobile phone” email that did the rounds years ago, and hundreds of others.

For one thing, 80% of statistics are made up, so “seven percent” is fiction – but more importantly: I don’t like being manipulated. Guilt trips and pressure tactics are about the surest way of not getting my cooperation, no matter what cause you represent or what you’re trying to sell. I grew up going to both Baptist and Pentecostal churches, so I know how to be a critical thinker and I know when I’m being manipulated.

You want to really get people to buy in to a cause, then appeal to their intellect and move them with your passion. Share your stories of how it effects your life, and give them enough information to understand, to agree (or not), and to know how to participate (or not). Leave the manipulative tactics to the politicians. If your cause is true then you don’t need ‘em. A guilt trip is a short journey that ends at about the same place it started. Commitment carries you much further.

This week is for special needs education awareness. Many people don’t understand that children with special needs are not sick. That they are not searching for a cure, just acceptance. I know and love some children that have special needs and am frustrated by how some people view them. How about you?

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