This morning, when I logged in to LinkedIn, I came across a photo of a U.S. Army soldier holding a cardboard sign that reads: “If you support the troops please ‘like’ this picture. We need your support”. When I saw it, there were more than 43,000 ‘likes’ and more than 2,400 comments. Many of the comments were of the “Thank you” or “God bless you for your service” variety, although some comments appropriately pointed out that the whole idea of supporting the troops by clicking a ‘like’ icon from the comfort of your chair is not only ineffective but absurd and lazy as well.
This is the sort of thing in which people participate as a feel-good exercise. It’s nothing more than jumping on some quasi-popular craze to collect intangible bonus points on a social media site. It’s yellow-ribbon bumper stickers without the need to get up and go to the garage.
If you really want to support the troops, do something real. Give some money to a veterans organization. Volunteer your time to work with returning vets. Write letters to your representatives. Bring some chocolates to a hospital. Or – if you’re of the right age – get out of your chair and join the military.
Better yet: put your time and energy towards efforts to reduce the need for so many troops. Work for the cause of peace. Organize events. Speak out at events. Do what you can to reduce the number of men and women coming home mangled or dead.
These sorts of things go a lot farther in demonstrating “support for troops” than mindlessly hopping on some patriotic-click-me bandwagon. It’s not mandatory to support troops, but if you really do, then quit faking it on LinkedIn or Facebook. Get out and do something.