Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Dangers of Facebook 'Causes'

If you've been on Facebook recently, you've probably seen this, over and over again:

"Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6. Join the fight against child abuse, copy & paste to your status and invite friends to do the same."

While it's refreshing to see Facebook used for something more than sharing pictures of an impressive meal, it is yet another step so far in the wrong direction we won't remember what the right one was when we get there. If on December 6, every single one of the millions of Facebook profile pictures is a cartoon, it still would have accomplished exactly nothing. True, we are declaring in one voice that we're against child abuse, but is anyone NOT against child abuse? If there actually is a person out there who is PRO child abuse, I sincerely doubt even millions of little cartoon faces will change that person's opinion on the matter.

There are a great many things I'm against, and I'm sure many people share my views. I'm anti-spousal abuse. I am opposed to murder and rape. I have a deep aversion to poverty, suffering, oppression, and hunger. These are problems that have existed since the beginning of humanity, and it's up to those of us with drive and passion and the means to do something about it. The problem with half-measures like this profile picture nonsense is it gets in the way of doing something real.

Some of my Facebook friends are parents, and some I know for a fact feel strongly about children's issues. For every one of you that changed your picture and also takes the step to do something substantial, there are hundreds, maybe thousands who changed their picture then stopped thinking about child abuse. For most, it was a quick, easy, and fun way to pretend they care about a very important problem in our society. Therein lies the problem.

Everyone not living in abject poverty has that little voice in the back of their heads making them feel guilty about not helping those less fortunate. Hell, you even hear stories about people in AIDS ravaged African villages taking the time to help their neighbors. Changing your profile picture makes you think you've "done something about" preventing child abuse, and it helps to placate your conscience. You get put it out into the world that you care and you're "part of the solution." What you're really doing is taking the easy way out.

If the ONLY thing you have done to prevent child abuse is change your profile picture, you have accomplished NOTHING but you feel like you've done your good deed for the day. As long as you feel satisfied that you've done your part, you will make no effort to do something of substance.

It's the end of the year. Tax write offs aside, this is the time most people do their giving. If you really care about ending child abuse, donate money to a cause that actually does something about it:

What's that you say? You have no extra money to donate? If someone in an AIDS ravaged village can find a way to be charitable, so can you. Don't let your conscience off the hook. If you can't donate money, volunteer. If you don't have time to volunteer, write your Representatives and Senators and demand money for child abuse prevention be a part of these budget debates. You have Facebook at your disposal, write a form letter that people can print out and mail to their Congressmen and send it to all your friends. Anyone else have any ideas? These took me about 8 seconds to come up with.

A lot of people are probably doing this thing for fun, but if you think you're helping anything but you're not willing to actually DO SOMETHING about child abuse, change your fucking profile picture back.

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