Matt HealeyWednesday,14 May 2014

The Snap:

There is nothing like ineffective meaningless gestures. They are great. The usually take no effort and accomplish almost nothing. I say almost nothing because they do accomplish something – they make the person who makes the gesture feel better.

The Download:

I was reminded of the uselessness of some actions when two of the most useless gestures were combined – Prayer and twitter hashtags. They were combined by the Pope who tweeted this:

Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria. #BringBackOurGirls

Let’s start with prayer. The person who is praying assumes that by reciting some magic words to their imaginary friend they will somehow affect worldly outcomes. Despite the fact that there have been numerous studies that show there is no effect. A Mayo Clinic study showed “As delivered in this study, intercessory prayer had no significant effect on medical outcomes after hospitalization in a coronary care unit.” The MANTRA II study was conducted by Duke university found that “Neither masked prayer nor MIT therapy significantly improved clinical outcome after elective catheterisation or percutaneous coronary intervention.”  The STEP project was conducted by Harvard professor Herbert Benson and found that “Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications”  So, other than making Pope Frank feel better, the prayer will accomplish nothing.

But wait – he used a hashtag and we all know how powerful that can be. Right. After all it is social media. One of the most important things I know about social media is that I don’t know as much about it as Shane does who is “done with avatar changes as symbolic gestures. I’d rather focus on what matters.” I will defer to his views on the efficacy of Twitter.

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Image Credit: Flickr

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