This may get ranty.
My wife is a keen comper. We’re on a tight budget and entering competitions is a good way to win presents for Christmas, birthdays and for resale. It means we can see shows or occassionally win amazing things. Most of the time though it will be tat. Hilariously awful tat like a ‘kebabeque’ or a ‘designer’ bag so named because it has the word DESIGNER spelled out in sequins.
The Christmas period is peak comping time. Hours and hours of data entry and RTing and following can produce mini-marvels and fun surprises in the post.
Comping has its own rhythm and you start to notice weird behaviours. Many of the Twitter / Facebook competitions ask only for you to like, share or RT. Some ask for a comment to answer a question or explain why you should win. Most don’t.
This doesn’t stop people from posting comments running from the asinine “hope I win :)” (why else would you enter a competition?) to creepily unctuous “thanks for giving me the opportunity to win. Best prize ever! Thanks!!!”.
These comments are bad enough but its when you see what the prize is that it just renders them even more ridiculous. The crappiest of crappy trinkets, keys rings (RRP £18), free samples of soap, tacky make-up, gadgets that the Innovations catalogue (the unfashionable godfather of Firebox and iwantoneofthose.com) would have rejected as a ‘bit naff’.
After a few hours of clicking, scrolling and mechanically typing blandities in the hope of adding to the Christmas war chest these meaningless cheerily hopeful comments become wallpaper.
That is until I reach a particular species of comment I’d previously only glimpsed on reality TV shows and glorifed karaoke contests.
“It would really mean the world to me if I won. It’s been such a hard year what with the cancer and my mum getting cancer too and my dog having to be put down but I can’t afford to put him down cause I haven’t got enough money so I had to use a shovel. After all that it would be the best gift ever. Please let me win”
(I paraphrase and exaggerate for comic effect but not by much).
All this for a hamper of jam. Not even good jam.
Sob story after sob story not for holidays, or TVs or big money wins or houses in the country but for useless tat. Key rings, low value money off vouchers for high end stores (save £10 when you spend £1000!), ugly ugly jewellery – no item is too hideous to not warrant a litany of woe, misfortune and cruel, cruel fate.
Why does it matter? Why does it make me angry? It angers me on one level that people think that these tactics actually work. Do they really think that in a “RT and follow” competition that global megacore firm employee is actually going to wade through over a 1000 comments and analyse them for the most wrenching misery? Isn’t it more likely that all the RTs are tracked, assigned a number and the winner picked at random?
The core of it is the idea of people using their personal tragedies and the tragedies of others so cheaply. Does it really honour the memory of your most beloved grandparent to use their death as a reason to be awarded a pressure cooker? Is death, grief and bereavement an alternative currency? Are souls and memories to be bartered for trinkets? Do they genuinely think that the universe owes them something for their loss and that something should be a collection of self published romance novels? Is that an adequete level of karmic balance?
What I don’t see is any bereaved parent pulling this crap. No-one in that position would use the death of their child or children as a bargaining chip in such a way. Those that do are probably lying and trying to scam people. Those that have suffered loss are under no illusion that anything will make it better or change what has happened. The void in their life is not so easily filled.