Hey, you. Yes, you. I see you sitting on your toilet, flipping between Facebook and Twitter, your bowel movement long-complete and yet you can’t seem to budge from the toilet seat. Your fury has risen to a point you can feel a vein throbbing in the side of your neck. Your chest is tight with rage. The media. The fucking complicit media!
You’re furious because, thanks to Facebook, via a screenshot of a tweet from a guy you’ve never heard of but who seems completely legit, you’ve just learned that apparently there was a massive sex trafficking bust in Georgia — 39 trafficked children rescued from a trailer! And the media didn’t even cover it. “Why is this not the biggest news story in America?” the screenshot of the tweet reads. Exactly!, you think indignantly. The media really didn’t cover this! And you would know, because your bowel movement was extra slow today so you’ve had way more time than usual to scroll your “news” feeds (social media). You definitely would have known if the media had covered something THIS huge. And the media definitely did not.
You share the screenshot of the tweet and type your own intro: “WAKE UP AMERICA!” You’re still red-hot with rage. It’s disgusting that the media doesn’t even bother to let people know the truth of what’s really going on! Figures, though. If it doesn’t fit their narrative, they don’t even care, UGH.
After you finally stand up and shake our your legs, which have fallen asleep from being smashed on the toilet seat for so long, you check Facebook for notifications on your post. Hopefully your friends are starting to see what you shared. People need to know about this! You’re relieved and gratified to see a few likes and a couple of appropriately outraged comments from your friends. Whew. You’ve done your part to spread awareness. Good job.
The thing is, friend, there was no trailer of 39 children. You, like so many gullible others, fell for an intentional disinformation campaign. Honey, it was a fucking tweet. Tweets aren’t news. Tweets don’t have sources (unless they literally have sources linked in the tweet. The tweet itself is not a source. Did you even go to high school?)
And while you are shouting about how the media wasn’t covering 39 kids rescued from a doublewide, the media was indeed covering the story, which was that a multi-state operation recovered 39 missing—not necessarily trafficked—children over a span of two weeks.
The operation, dubbed “Operation Not Forgotten,” sought to locate 78 “critically missing” children. “Critically missing” means a child could be at risk for trafficking, but it could also indicate risk of parental abuse or a medical condition that necessitates their recovery. Authorities located 65 of the 78 missing children and recovered 39. Please note that this means that 26 children were left exactly where they were, because they were found to be in a place that was fine for them to be. Georgia state authorities said they confirmed six cases of sex trafficking out of a suspected 15. Darby Kirby, a U.S. Marshals Service inspector who took part in the operation, told Huffpost, “This was not a designated anti-trafficking operation.”
That’s the real story. It was covered in the news. And while you fell for a disinformation campaign and couldn’t be bothered to do the three seconds of research required to not be an idiot, while you screamed at your Facebook friends list to “WAKE UP,” while you accused the media of not doing its job, you did literally nothing to help the victims of sex trafficking that you claim to be so worried about.
In terms of activism, not only are you not doing a damn thing to help anyone, but you’re spreading misinformation — cluttering up the airwaves with bullshit so that the organizations that are actually doing the work to help victims of sex trafficking can’t get a word in edgewise.
While you fill yourself up with righteous rage that “no one cares,” people at the Polaris Project are busting their asses advocating for stricter federal and state laws here in the U.S. to target the systems that enable sex trafficking. Polaris also operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking hotline. Polaris needs donations and volunteers. Perhaps next time you work yourself up into a lather, you could share their link?
While you were screaming “WAKE UP” at your Facebook followers, organizations like Operation Underground Railroad and Traffickinghub.com are working jointly to hold Pornhub, a popular porn site, accountable for its complicity in sex trafficking. Operation Underground Railroad could use your donations, your signatures, and your general attention.
While you picture 39 rosy-cheeked little girls smashed together in a single trailer, you totally neglect the reality of the most statistically vulnerable populations. Of homeless children, up to 40% are LGBTQ youth. Many of these youth have either been kicked out of their homes or fled from rejection (46%). LGBTQ homeless youth are 7.4 times more likely to experience sexual violence than their heterosexual peers, and they are 3 to 7 times more likely to trade sex for food, shelter, drugs, or other needed items. (In case you didn’t know, this is a form of trafficking.)
LGBTQ youth are extremely vulnerable to exploitation not only because they are homeless, but because they fear that if they seek help, they may face disbelief or outright discrimination instead. Polaris, the organization mentioned above, also directly targets LGBTQ homeless populations, and they could use your donations, your time, and your attention.
While you tweet angrily at Chrissy Teigen, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, or CAST, offers life-transforming services like housing, education, and legal resources to survivors of sex trafficking. CAST also has an education platform and advocates for legislation to help end human trafficking. Perhaps share that to social media instead of your faux outrage about an “elite sex ring” that you found out about via “research” you got from a cowardly idiot with a letter for a name. CAST could use your volunteer hours and your dollars.
While you were busy boldly announcing you would “never shop at Wayfair again,” Shared Hope International was busy implementing their three-pronged approach to fight sex trafficking, educating first responders and communities about signs to look for, assisting survivors in their road to healing, and bringing justice to victims through the legal system. Shared Hope International would appreciate a social share from you.
In short, your “raising awareness” is complete and utter bullshit. You’re engaging in the most pathetic, vapid form of armchair activism that yields no help whatsoever to actual victims of sex trafficking. Simply because you just discovered sex trafficking is a huge problem doesn’t mean that thousands of people aren’t already on the case. So maybe instead of righteous indignation about how uninformed you think everyone else is, you could show a little humility and realize that it is, in fact, you who are late to the party.
Do some actual research (all the organizations mentioned above have links embedded), and hey, I dunno, maybe even engage in the kind of activism that requires you to get off the fucking toilet.
This article was originally published on