Dear Reader, I hope you will not boycott my blog after reading this.
Because, I shamelessly watched the Olympics. Despite an impassioned segment from Keith Olbermann about the horrific dog killing in Sochi. Despite Russian politicians’ ignorant and insulting statements about homosexuality. And despite Putin’s years of human rights violations.
I watched because, despite all the calls to boycott the Olympics by my enlightened friends and colleagues…what good would it do?
Take it to its logical conclusion.
Okay, NBC gets low ratings for the Olympics. So maybe they decide that covering the Olympics is a losing proposition if they can’t promise advertisers the viewers. And then, sponsors for the athletes have to give a second thought to those sponsorships because, if their good deeds aren’t going to get national visibility on a broadcast network, is it really worth it to sponsor an athlete? And the athletes, shorn of sponsors, will they be able to afford Olympic competition? How does any of this lead to the Olympic Committee putting the next Olympic site candidates through a basic decency checklist before awarding the Olympic venue?
Likewise, I have yet to share a Facebook status or pass along a chain email. Does cancer care if I dedicate my status to saying in some creative way that cancer sucks? If I post a red equal sign to show my support of marriage equality, will the Supreme Court justices take note and change their vote? I’m pretty sure they’ve taken no notice of any of my statuses, otherwise the legal penalties for child or animal abuse would be a whole lot more creative and painful.
If I tell you my bra color, or make my profile picture purple, how much money will go to a cause I believe in? Chevrolet pledges a dollar to fight cancer for every purple photo. But I write checks for more than a dollar, so wouldn’t I be better off just writing a check or volunteering?
Don’t get me wrong. I think boycotts and protests can bring about great social change. But they have to be done strategically. If we all just hop on the latest easy, fun social wave because it makes us feel good about ourselves without actually ensuring that our mobilization results in change, isn’t our protest pointless?