Well fuck me in both ears, this is fantastic news! The scourge of child abuse has officially ENDED across the globe, thanks to thousands of people on Facebook who chose to change their profile pictures. That’s all it took, honestly! Battered children everywhere are now heaving sighs of relief knowing that peace has come to them at last. Thanks, Facebook status updates!
This is one of those things about Facebook that drives me crazy. Seems like every week there’s some new trend where people are asked to change their status to something in support of some cause. ”I support putting an end to the barbaric act of nipple-piercings on orangutans. Post this on your Facebook status to pass it on!” It’s like some weird, mutated version of the classic chain letter, especially when they try and guilt you into doing it by adding “96% of people won’t post this, will you??” My immediate reaction to this is, “Sorry, I won’t be guilted into posting this crap on my profile, even when you quote phony percentages that someone just pulled out of their ass.”
It gets even more annoying, however, when they want you to update your status and change your profile photo. The latest example is probably the most absurd. Quoted from one of the dozen (at least) FB friends of mine who went along with this:
So let me get this straight: by changing my FB photo to a cartoon character from my childhood, I’m somehow magically fighting child abuse? Are they actually saying this, and are people really doing it? You bet your ass they are, because at least once a day I see something like this pop up on my feed:
This is what we’ve been reduced to when it comes to supporting a cause: making a minor update on our Facebook accounts. It’s so typically American, too–what better (and more convenient for me) way to end AIDS, hunger, or poverty than by tapping a few buttons on a phone/keyboard/screen and changing a superficial element on a social network? It’s so simple! You don’t even have to get actually involved in any way, just pick out a cute cartoon character and make it your profile picture and you’re FIGHTING CHILD ABUSE! Yay for us!
Except, of course, kids are still being beaten and killed by drunk, negligent, ignorant, and just plain evil people. Your profile update, sadly, didn’t magically donate money to an organization which fights this sort of thing. It didn’t help educate, pay medical bills, provide refuge, or fill a hungry belly. It didn’t do a goddamned thing but make you feel better, in a very public way, about not actually doing anything. These are simply social games cooked up to make people feel good about themselves, simple as that–and zillions of well-meaning people fall in line and do it every time a new one rolls around. It’s the same thing with the magnetic ribbon industry: people think that by slapping a ribbon on their car they’re somehow taking part in a cause, when in reality they just gave $10 to a company that specializes in magnetic ribbons.
“But what about raising awareness, huh? What about that, you uncaring asshole? People need to be aware of child abuse!!” Well, no shit. We’re all aware that child abuse happens, we don’t need Facebook to tell us that. But if you’re really that passionate about something, maybe you should do more than follow the FB trend-herd. The least you can do is donate some money to a local charity or something, not just update your status and forget about it. Christ!