Change your default Facebook picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on facebook until Monday the 6th of Dec. Join the fight against child abuse, and invite your friends to do the same.
That’s the latest cause on Facebook, and it’s got traction – not because people think this helps to fight child abuse, I rather suspect, but because we have such fond nostalgic memories of the cartoons we watched as kids. I chose a picture from Rainbow Brite – maybe I’m supporting abused gay children? Hard to say. But it’s been super-fun, and in some cases rather educational, to check out what TV shows others choose to represent themselves online.
But are any of us really “joining the fight against child abuse”? Well, not really. I’d wager we’d all be willing to make a statement about how wrong it is – after all, child abuse isn’t one of those things people tend to stick up for. Even abusers would probably speak against it, justifying their own behaviour towards children by saying it’s “discipline” or “tough love”, not “abuse”. And like I said, most people aren’t really making a statement about child abuse. This is a fun Facebook game.
My good friend Drumrider wrote about this back in October, when the Facebook charity causes were breast cancer (through the bra colours meme or “I like it on the floor”) and supporting gay kids against bullying (where we showed our solidarity by wearing purple). In her post, she asks, “Did wearing purple make a difference?” and largely concludes that it did not. She references the Malcolm Gladwell concept of “slacktivism” – a passive kind of activism where Internet users can substitute changing a status here or a profile picture there for actual substantive work towards change. They can then say, “Well, I did my duty, I raised awareness” and go to bed with a clear conscience, even though they’ve actually made no real difference at all.