Go on Facebook and you can easily find traces of social change campaigns, usually in the form of videos or heartwarming posts shared by your social circle. While Singaporeans are usually the direct recipients of these causes, there has been an increase in social causes centred on foreigners, which could be attributed to the influx of foreign labour into the country. Here, we take a look at one: the Respect Our Rights movement.
A scroll-through reveals some prominent features: (1) the avatar, (2) personal narratives of foreign domestic workers being abused, and (3) news reports supporting these narratives. These stories emulate the style of the highly popular Humans of New York page, but instead of sharing stories of positivity, the page takes on a drastic transformation by elaborating instances of abuse and challenges these workers face.
A comparison of posts between Respect Our Rights (L) and Humans of New York (R)
(Credits: Respect Our Rights, Humans of New York Facebook pages)
While highlights of their plights have definitely gained our attention and compassion, posts could perhaps be paced out better to avoid desensitization. Global and regional campaigns, case studies and positive examples could also be shared to convince employers that positive change is happening, however small the contribution.
Considering that some posts are reiterations and sensationalized narratives of local media reports, a possible alternative to look into is greater immersion into the lives of foreign domestic workers. A great example has been done by Guy Cotten, a leader in marine clothing and safety equipment, who devised a drowning simulator to drive home the message for more people to wear safety life jackets at sea (think with Google, 2014).
A Trip Out To Sea
In a similar vein, Respect Our Rights should consider developing a stimulated web experience where users can step in the shoes of foreign domestic workers and live through the difficulties they face. This could increase virality of the experience and bring greater attention and empathy among employers.