Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Virals: Beyond BRELFIE

Although the title sounds like a new virus, I assure you it’s not as dangerous.

I find the whole thing a bit amusing, and the way our people handle this issue is no different than the way they handle other viral issues. I was in the thick of one viral issue last year in fact, on the front page of Malaysian Insider for “I want to touch a dog”. Thank god the public didn’t know who I was personally. If they did, I would be getting hate mails and death threats.

My mom and dad did get a scolding from conservative family members. Some of my acquaintances were cynical at most. Some were like, “are you okay? They’re saying really mean things about you as a mom.”

I don’t want to get into specifics. Just that the experience was very surreal, like being in the middle of a hurricane. Uncontrollable. Anyway, again, thank god the public didn’t know me personally. The issue of touching a dog is a different matter completely, and people reacted as if the event personally insulted their parents.

Now back to the brelfie issue.

I don’t think people have issues with breastfeeding to say the least. It’s as natural as eating or sleeping. It’s always the norm ever since Prophet Adam had children I would imagine.

So it’s not about breastfeeding. 

It’s about breastfeeding--then taking a selfie while feeding a baby, then posting it to the internet. Here’s the catch. They posted the photos to a private breastfeeding advocates group on FB (undoubtedly women’s). Some jerk came and shared the photos to a popular FB page Amran Fans (undoubtedly men’s).

Guess what happens when men are shown photos of women breastfeeding their babies? Here’s what: Imagination. Exaggeration. As they say, hilarity ensues.

What men see and what women see are totally different things, I get that. The faster everyone accepts that, the more peaceful we become.

So the ladies did post breastfeeding pictures on the private group… You’d say, it’s inappropriate! It’s the internet, so nothing is private! Let me ask you something, have you been to a ladies soiree before? We share tips, we share stories, we compare notes bla blabla. Yes, we breastfeed in front of each other and it’s fun, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. When this gathering goes online, don’t you think it would be the same?

Do you blame women for simply being themselves? Yes, there’s a thin, blurred line as to how appropriate posting a breastfeeding picture online is. The group was supposed to be private. I personally would not post a breastfeeding picture anywhere online, as I am aware that these photos can leak easily. 

But I do think some people genuinely trust the privacy of these groups. About reports that some ladies posted these photos to their FB walls, I’m not sure but if true, then that’s a whole different animal there.

What’s more important though, is how you react to stories like these. Have you heard of the saying, “when you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you”? What does it say about people who respond downright crudely, even vile, beating these ladies to a pulp with their language?

Really how people react speaks volumes about themselves. I’m scared to think how they will raise their children. How they are merciless to mistakes. Sometimes I ask, do people like these really exist or are they trolls? Maybe keyboard warriors. But there’s so many of them with highly specific comments.

The problem of brelfie isn’t as bad as the problem of our self-appointed moral police. Brelfie could be a slight error in judgement. I’m sure they would never repeat it again once they know the consequences. People will start to learn where to draw the line. I’m not trying to downplay this selfie while breastfeeding issue. But here’s a fact: Brelfie will die soon.

The moral policing though? The crude language though? Will they die with the brelfie? I doubt it. Old habits die hard, they say.

I personally hate viral stories because they are seldom good things especially in Malaysia. The dog story, the pig dna in Cadbury chocolate, the diaper as plates, etc. None of them are really beneficial or inspiring, but more like a fun bashing party. Good people are slandered, dissected to be as worthy as garbage.

I know. I was at the receiving end, although by proxy.

I guess in all of this, I’m just hoping for at least one thing to happen. That next time another bad, viral story comes around, just ignore it. It’s not worthy of your time. It’s a sensationalized internet soap opera that will be forgotten in a few weeks’ time. Lost in the abyss of internet absurdity. Gone. 

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