By Rev. Marty Levesque
Share Bait is any post on a social networking site (typically a puzzle, optical illusion, political question, inspirational story, etc.), that asks for the user to share it with friends, with the objective of getting as much exposure or attention for the meme as possible.
These are often cute memes that we “Like” and “Share.” Usually, they are something innocuous like a church sign that reads, “whoever is praying for snow, please stop!!” (Pro-tip, it is I, I pray for snow, now you know.)
The point of these memes is to get as wide as possible an audience to “Like” and “Share” the meme, but also to “Like” the organization’s page. It is a communication tool in any organizations media toolbox.
The question though is not whether we share the meme or not, but rather is the organization asking us to “Like” and “Share” the meme representative of an organization we, as the church and representatives of the church, want to signal boost?
Many questionable organizations use this technique to gain “Likes” and then leverage your contacts to further propagate their message. And while the original meme may be innocuous or the political message may be one you personally agree with, signal boosting Alt-Right or Alt-Left organizations has consequences.
Before sharing a meme I will click on the link to the organization’s page and read their “about” section. I often scroll down the page and look through a few post and even read the dreaded comments section.
In short order, I am able to ascertain if this is an organization that I want to tie my reputation to or more importantly the reputation of the church.
For instance, one page I recently visited has these comments left on a post just down from a share bait meme. “That ugly nasty greedy no good money grubbing snot faced witch”; “The ugliest human dyke who ever existed”; and “I’m surprised that no one has shot her but maybe the bullets cost to much.”
Clearly, this is not an organization I want to associate myself with or the church. Nor is it an organization that I want to give any oxygen too for it does not represent a life in Christ, love of God and love of neighbour. And all it took was a single click and a few minutes.
Rev. Marty Levesque is the diocesan social media officer and rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo.