On Wednesday, January 30th, Bell Canada once again facilitated the Bell Let’s Talk campaign.
There were several things I noticed that were different this year.
One thing was that bell offered to donate five cents for every view of a video they posted. The cool thing was you could share that video in messenger.
The unfortunate thing was that a large group of sanctified intellectuals pointed out that Bell couldn’t track messenger messages.
That’s true …
What the techno-intelligencia seemed to leave out was that if you clicked on the video link in messenger, Bell did indeed get a counter tick and added another five cents to the pot.
And those who listened to the techies and subsequently donned their capes of borrowed brilliance, they started ranting with assumed righteousness about how they were sick and tired of receiving these videos in light of the fact that they did nothing for the cause.
I clicked on every one
Okay, I was in a café at the time and had the volume on my computer turned down, but I clicked on every blessed link sent to me.
I hash-tagged a couple of times … I think. I used the profile picture frame. I fired off the video a few times too.
I did not text.
I’m not a bell customer. Haven’t been in years. Bell and I had a little tiff about my personal phone account and I switched to another supplier.
We’ve agreed to disagree.
But I continue to support them in this effort.
And then this happened …
Kate Robertson published an article with the tag line, “Researchers are concerned that social media and internet addiction – all activities Bell promotes and sells – could be causing harm, but sure let’s keep tweeting that stigma away” and others soon joined in on the uproar.
Three things immediately started bothering me.
Kate Robertson is a journalist, not a researcher. So yes, she should be reporting on research studies. But this is blatantly assuming and dramatizing unverified results rather than data with the phrase “could be causing harm”. As journalists, we call this false logic. I personally feel better when I’m calling out false logic rather than using it to better my google analytics stats.
And yes, she used the phrase “could be” which absolves her of reporting inaccurate material, but if even one person read that and thought, “… could be not causing harm just as easily …” than I’d like to hear from you.
She also used the words, “… but sure, let’s keep tweeting that stigma away” and I have to say, “Yes, please, may we?”
The timing of this was completely mercenary. Bell is getting lots of publicity for what some people are calling a pittance. (The pittance they paid for this years campaign was a donation of $7,272,134.95 plus what it cost them to advertise and facilitate the project. I’d like to get my hands on a pittance like that.) But Kate did one better. She rode that publicity without paying one thin dime for it.
Additionally, I’m willing to wager that she got paid.
The idea that texting is causing harm is an old one that will soon be debunked … oh, wait, I mean Facebook, not texting. Or was it watching television … no, that was our generation, and we think we may have survived that.
I remember being told that the phone was off limits unless it was absolutely necessary because it would rot my brain if I talked on it too much. And that was back when the phone was hardwired to the wall. I mean, I may not have been getting exercise, but at least my parents knew where I was.
I’d be willing to bet that the words, “Don’t read so much, you’ll rot your brain.” were spoken more than a few times down through the centuries.
I’m concerned for people who are concerned about texting being addictive. Especially people who write about it and in that writing talk about how addicted they are to so many techie things.
By her own confession Kate spends about $150 a month on social interactions, “way more if I get too excited on Snapchat and use up all my data.” (Her words) And she isn’t a Bell customer either. So who convinced her to pay all that money, since she is not even mentioning that she bears any responsibility in this? Why take aim at a company that isn’t benefiting from her so called “addiction” on the one day that they are trying to help people?
But am I upset about this?
Am I upset about Kate not being able to control her own addictions to a whole bunch of things but pointing a finger of accusation at one company that is trying to reduce stigma in the area of mental health at the single most opportune time for her little blurb to get traction without her actually even quoting any of the research she alludes to?
There’s all kinds of entertainment value in this. Parts of it, in fact, are downright laughable.
I’m concerned at how many souls started spiraling round the drain and getting sucked in by it, doing their best to do their worst to a project that has funneled millions into an attempt to reduce the stigma of mental health.
And I’m disappointed that it generated real negative backlash.
Full disclosure, I was paid to write this, though the opinions in this post are mine and may not be the opinions of my publisher.