Every time I scroll through Facebook, I discover that a new campaign has descended on my newsfeed. Breast cancer, animal cruelty, abortion, gun control, human trafficking. You name it, and Facebook users have commented on it. Sometimes the campaigns ask you to change your profile picture. Sometimes status updates are changed to some outrageous statement that makes everyone think you’re pregnant or that you have done something questionable. Then–surprise! Not pregnant, just reminding you that breast cancer exists.
I have no problem with any of these campaigns. In fact, I have been known to campaign for a few things myself. But, I do wonder if Facebook is offering a way for us to feel really good about doing nothing.
Awareness is the first step, I know. Awareness is good. But, awareness doesn’t feed hungry children or fund cancer research or do much of anything unless we are actually giving money away to the organizations that will use it for such things.
Take the No Makeup Selfies campaign that originated in the U.K. This trend has ended up raising millions of dollars for cancer research in the U.K., which is wonderful. Now, it has jumped across the pond, and American women have embraced the challenge as well, but our selfies are missing important elements for effective fundraising. Mainly, numbers to text to donate. We have ended up just filling everyone’s newsfeed with bare-faced photos as a reminder of cancer, but with no practical means of doing anything about it.
I myself have posted plenty of fiery rhetoric about abortion on Facebook, yet it’s been quite a long time since I have actually given money to a pregnancy center or some other organization that helps support pregnant women. My fear is that the need that we would normally feel to do something about tough issues and injustices in our society is being satisfied with our puny attempts at bringing up the issues on social media. Admit it–we feel brave when we write something controversial about a social problem in our world. We feel like we have sacrificed when we post our picture with no makeup on. We feel like we are real team players when we post a vague or strange status that is a code for breast cancer awareness.
But, the truth is that none of these things is true sacrifice. None is accomplishing much at all, other than making us feel like better people. So, the next time you consider changing your profile picture to show your support for a movement, be sure to actually donate some of your hard-earned money to the cause as well. And, I will do the same.
It’s time that we put our money where our status updates are. And then maybe we can use social media for more than just talking about helping. We can actually use real money to make a difference in real people’s lives. Once we’ve done that, we can freely educate and make people of aware of the issues we’re passionate about, selfies and all.