What if I don’t want to take a stand?

I am overwhelmed by the improvements in technology and how it increases the rate in which information is distributed today.  Every day, we hear about things that are happening in the world and sometimes from even further afield.  If we, Earth people come together as one, our voice is louder and our ideas will be heard.  Yes, I fully agree with that.

However, due to this newborn idea of being able to influence other countries’ governing regime or politics (to a certain extent) by internet polling, we are being bombarded by requests to take a stand; to be with or against something.  Is it really as simple as that?

When I see these requests, I first consider the simplicity of the matter.  If it is very simple, like when a country was going to pass a bill to kill all gays, that is a no brainer.  I will take a stand.  Some people may disagree that that was a simple matter, but for me, it was as clear as black and white.  It was discrimination in its simplest form.

However, if you are asking me to take a stand on political movements, where we should be ‘freeing’ a country by encouraging them to fight for democracy, I have to say that I cannot take a stand as I do not have enough information weigh the outcomes.  Just because my friends and maybe my family say that I should, doesn’t mean that I agree with it.  Are people signing these international petitions with enough information to make sound judgements, or are they doing so out of peer pressure?

I visited a website that was taking petitions recently and the first thing that struck me was how simple the cause looked.  All you got was two paragraphs stating, support so-and-so to help free innocents who are being held illegally.  Is this really enough information for me to say yes?  I only have the word of the website that this is true and that the innocents are actually innocent.  On top of that, there is a ticker bar on the web page showing who had just signed up.  Nina from United Kingdom, Agchara, K form Thailand, Janne Andersson from Sweden, and it keeps going.  This ticker refreshes every second and every second, it makes me feel that I should be signing the petition.

To me, this is bullshit.  Yes, the petition will affect the lives of the people in that country and if noticed, probably bring a lot of change in the direction that the mass public seems to want… BUT, I think it devalues what it means for us to vote and to choose.  It is no different from the polls that asks, “is this shoe better in red or black?” or “should so-and-so get married here or there?”  Seriously, is it actually so easy to make political decisions that will affect hundreds and thousands of lives?  Who am I to say that democracy is the way forward for everyone?  It worked for some, but that never means that it will work for all.  Also, wouldn’t it then stifle creativity, for humans to come up with more interesting and effective solutions?  Since that country did that and they are stable and rich, if we do it, we will become the same. Surely that is naive thinking.

These campaigns are all good for one thing… marketers.  The website, design, usage, the campaign as a whole are created by marketers to achieve maximum exposure.  Our posts on Facebook and Twitter just helps them do their job.  Do the people who are directly involved with the websites actually understand what the cause is about?  Do they have any evidence of what they are accusing?  If the answer is yes, then I say, why don’t they put it all up on the website (in as neutral a manner as possible) and let people make their own minds about whether or not they want to support it.

The other problem with these campaigns is that it numbs us from further campaigns.  We no longer stop to read when we see these messages since there are so many of them.  This applies to charities as well.  I now only trust my own real-life judgement and will help only when I am helping directly (i.e. giving money directly to a homeless person or helping at a hospital/charity).

So, is it worse that I do not take a stand because I believe that I do not have enough information to make sound judgement or that there are many many people who are taking a blind stand, without understanding what they are actually supporting?  If our world is going to be run by online polls and opinions, what kind of a world would be it be?  What about those who are not online?  Do their opinions and voices not count?