by Shaker ouyangdan
It is no surprise that Myspace and Facebook are not overly progressive or that they frequently have questionable or even outright offensive things on them. I do a pretty good job of avoiding most of it, but some of the advertisements (in my south Canadian accent that is "ad VERT is ment") are unavoidable, like the wretched bridal ads that I mentioned yesterday, or the disgusting "Sexy Politics," as mentioned at Feminsting recently.
But my biggest annoyance isn't the advertisements. It happens to be a new application that has taken social websites by storm -- the "Friends for Sale" or other similar and similarly named applications. The premise is exactly what it sounds like, you auction your friends off, buy them from each other, and claim them as your "pets." The application also sends out messages to your friends telling them just how much you "paid" for them, and invites you to "see how much you are worth."
From Myspace: I'm worth $884. How much are YOU worth?
From Facebook: The Developer's Description: Buy and sell your friends as pets! You can make your pets poke, send gifts, or just show off for you. Make money as a shrewd pets investor or as a hot commodity! Friends for Sale is the bees knees!
See? How much fun is that? Let's pretend that our friends are objects that we can buy and sell for our amusement! There is absolutely no problem with treating people like property and stripping them of their own autonomy, is there? If you think there is something wrong with that, then you must just not have a fucking sense of humor! Because buying and selling your friends is the bees knees!
Get it? GET IT?
I don't have tolerance for treating people as objects for fun and amusement. It is not funny to buy and sell people. I routinely ignore them, but I am pretty much thinking that I need to be more vocal about my disapproval of such things. I am starting with this blog post.
Not funny, Myspace and Facebook. Not in the least.
But I guess I am just another humorless bitch, aren't I?
Except I'm not. It's not "just a game."
Because, like I have said before, now more than once, we are dealing not only with words and their meanings, which are big and heavy all on their own merits, but because we are dealing with actual people. Real fucking human beings.
I am sick and fanfuckingtastically tired of "it's just a game," "lighten up," or "it's all in fun" being arguments for why the shit like this is acceptable as a form of entertainment. I am more than tempted to just say "hey, asshat, your privilege is showing" to people who think that it's just a game and they personally are not causing anyone harm (a fact which i believe is still up for debate), but this time it is coming from people whom I respect, and some of them I love, and with some of them I have forged bonds.
And that makes it harder to just point at brilliant posts by incredible writers better than me and tell them to educate themselves. It also makes me realize that the people I know IRL may not have all of the background and enlightenment that I have found via my online community of friends (as I experienced with a friend of mine on Myspace yesterday. For some reason it still surprises me when people are unwittingly blind to sexism and misogyny). I will give these people one free pass, and I will point to the wealth of knowledge on Al Gore's internet *throws poppy petals*.
The reason why Friends For Sale isn't amusing is because the actual sale of real human beings is affecting real people all over the world, and in our very own backyards who don't have the privilege of seeing it as "just a game." For some people there isn't the amusement of pretending to buy and sell people or the sheer thrill of seeing how much people are willing to spend to make them their "pets." They already know how much someone is willing to pay to force them into sex, or to have them torn away from their families and sold into farm labor or slavery in the US or Canada or Western Europe or anywhere else. They already know what the value of their lives is in dollars.
And they can't just log out or "ignore" the application. They are stuck. And it sure as hell isn't amusing.
And no one here is laughing.
The many many organizations dedicated to stopping human trafficking aren't there because it's funny or amusing, and I am sure that they would have a similar reaction to mine in regards to this "game." Or maybe being so angry you could cry and spit isn't as common as I thought.
For the link challenged or number people, I have some numbers for you:
It is estimated that 600,000-820,000 people are trafficked every year.
Of that number, about 70% are women and girls, and at least 50% are minors.
What's really funny is that it seems that the funniest things are those that only disproportionately impact women and children. I am seriously LOL right now. Cuz it's just a game! See? It's not hurting anyone!
They are forcibly taken, lied to, and otherwise not according to their own free will removed from their homes with a promise of a better life, sometimes sold by their own families. They are taken for many reasons, including forced prostitution, farm and domestic labor, or (one I didn't even know) for the forcible taking and selling of their internal organs.
It just gets funnier.
According to the Wiki gods, 2/3 of women trafficked are from Eastern European and former Soviet Union countries.
14,000 people are trafficked directly into the US each year.
600-800 are trafficked into Canada, an additional 1,500-2,200 are trafficked through Canada into the United States.
And I could go on.
But I don't really think I have to. At this point if you can't see why it isn't funny, amusing, or just a game, then I have lost you and you have missed the point. And you are reading the wrong blog.
The fact that you can turn off the application or can find it so amusing screams of privilege and reeks of ignorance. I can't stress enough that by regarding it as just fun is simply normalizing the horrors that hundreds of thousands of people live through each day. Every minute. Every painful second. I guess that if you just pretend that it's a game and that you aren't hurting anyone then you are free to ignore those people and not even have to deal w/ what that means. That these are actual people, not just online personas that we buy sell and trade. Sure, I suppose in some way it is fun to buy your friends and make your new pets dance or show off for your amusement.
But I don't get it.
And it's not "just a game."