97% Of You Won’t Read This

However, I wish you would.

The preceding title is intended to be provocative; it is intended to stir you to action. It is also phrase that is often seen in Facebook status updates as in:

“God has provided this glorious day. 97% of you will NOT repost this.” 

While I’m encouraged by the first sentence, the second sentence always leaves a sour taste in my mouth. As a result, I recently responded with the following status update of my own: 

“My name is Dylan. Unfortunately, most of you WON’T repost this. By writing that, I am attempting to manipulate you by implying that if you DON’T repost this, you are like most people; in other words, ordinary. Ironically, by re-posting this, you are, in fact, joining a group that, if taken to its intended conclusion, will consist of most people. Or maybe you won’t repost this because your name isn’t Dylan.”

I thought it was funny. I mean, why on earth would anyone repost it?

Well, some people agreed that it was funny, and went so far as to repost it, despite the confusion it may create in people reading their profiles. But, based on some private responses from people whom I consider friends, some were NOT amused. For that reason, I decided to explain in a forum that wasn’t limited to 230 characters. (BTW, there’s no character limit in the “comments” section either, so feel free to express your opinion at whatever length with which you’re comfortable).

Personally, I find the phrase “97% of you will NOT repost this” and its cousin “Unfortunately, most of you WON’T repost this” to be passive-aggressive and snarky for the reasons I illustrated in my status post. In addition, it implies that I was expected to repost your sentiment, and my failure to do so indicates some sort of deficiency/laziness/insensitivity on my part. In my opinion, it employs the psychology of exclusivity (97% of you don’t get it) while at the same time manufacturing value with implied scarcity (the remaining 3% of you are cool). All with CTRL+C, CTRL+V.

That’s a long-winded, academic explanation.

Long story short, by saying:  “97% of you will NOT repost this,” you are placing me in one of those two camps which makes me, the reader, feel judged by you, the writer (or the copier and paster). I’m either with you, or I’m less than you, and there’s no need to do that.

Please know that my feeling about those two phrases is in no way intended to diminish the spirit of your status update. For the record, I, too, believe that “God has provided this glorious day.” I also believe that cancer is horrible, strong women are good, and that domestic violence is wrong.

In the spirit of compromise, may I suggest the following: 

“God has provided this glorious day. 97% of you will NOT repost this.”

Like, like, like.

I’m sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings, and I’d like to thank the 3% of you that read this to the end.

-Dylan

There are 3 comments

  1. I just read the first and last paragraph.

    I think I got the gist of it

  2. Dustyn wrote

    Well said. What statistical analyst performed studies confirming the 3% recidivism rate anyway? I think it’s just corny. It’s akin to begging people to repost something. Ultimately, the originator of these posts just gets his/her rocks off by seeing something they wrote spread across the internet. I refuse to stroke that ego.

  3. I am sooo stealing the fifth paragraph for my FB update.