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Monday, February 15, 2010

Cause Invitation

If you're on Facebook - I mean really participating on it regularly - then you've no doubt received one. I'm talking about those "causes" that your "friends" ask you to "join."

I put these words in quotes because I'm unsure of their meaning in this context. That is to say that I don't know how cause, friend or join are defined in the land of Facebook. You know, it's the land where you can have friends you've never met or talked to (even on-line).

Today's invitation was from someone I know, a relative actually. And I respect her. She asked me to join what appears to be a noble cause: Free Postage for All Families of Deployed Military. Who wouldn't want that? I love and admire - and pray for - our deployed soldiers and their families. They're awesome and our country owes them so much more than free postage.

So I considered joining this "cause." But upon investigation, I learned a couple of things. First, the people in this supposed cause aren't actually doing anything to bring any free postage to deployed military families. Just putting a page on Facebook doesn't make anything happen. And whoever set the page up on Facebook hasn't actually said what they want to do to make it happen.

Still, a surprising number, 2,650,884 people have joined this cause! And they appear to be joining as fast as I can check the page too. On the other hand, a real telling measure of their true intent is the amount of money this group of people have given to this noble cause. The amount? A whopping $25.00. No kidding. So more than 2.6 million people cared so much about this that they were able to raise a total of $25.00 to support it. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!

Upon further investigation, I find that the need for free postage for military families is really not all that great either. You see, people are misinformed. Many on this Facebook page are saying that soldiers have to pay for postage. They do not.

Soldiers deployed overseas do not have to pay for postage. Their friends and families do need to pay postage to send things to the deployed soldiers. The postal service also offers a real discount on the large, Priority Flat-Rate box going to any APO or FPO (military) address. It’s not free, but it’s a substantial deal – and you can stuff the box as full as you want for just one low price.

So the postage burden for the deployed soldier to write home or send souvenirs home is zero. And the postage burden for friends and family of the deployed soldier to write or send cookies is only nominal. Simply put, this doesn't look like much of a burden. It would seem that if we're going to raise money to lobby Congress about something - there are more important "causes" to "join."

As you might guess, I have not joined this cause. But I think it illustrates a reality in the land of Facebook. People are gullible. People are also not terribly sincere when they say they support something. When the cost of your support is only a mouse-click, then what is the value of your support? I'd say it's negligible.

Could Facebook be used to rally serious people around worthwhile causes? Perhaps. But it would appear that we are still waiting for that opportunity to materialize!

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