And for those who like bitty urls, here’s a shorter version: http://tinyurl.com/3xf2vy7
But let’s get to the point. The article was in my newspaper recently, asking the question “Are web avatar campaigns a force for real change or just slacktivism?”
Apparently, people on Facebook were changing their profile pictures to cartoon characters to raise awareness about the perils of child abuse, etc. It is an online attempt to replicate campaigns like the ones where you wear a ribbon to raise awareness/show support for cancer research.
But there’s a difference, see. When you do those October Race for the Cure, wear a ribbon, buy pink tennis shoes, or whatever, you’re usually making a small cash donation. $1 or two doesn’t break the bank, but it certainly helps out in the long run when enough people do it.
Picture compliments of Niki K. via Wikimedia Commons
Changing a profile picture on Facebook is done with about three clicks and is a meaningless action overall. I’m fairly certain there are better ways to raise awareness about child abuse and the problems involved. You can probably find a child protection group’s Facebook page/real web page and donate to them that way, and then post a link on your Wall that says something to the effect of “Billy Goat Gruff donated to the Prevent Abuse Campaign. Donate now!” That will draw more attention than changing a picture.
It feels nice to make people aware, and yes, I’m sure some people are prompted by the picture changes, look into the situation more, and then donate appropriately. But from the article, it seems most are just doing it for fun. Or to feel like they are doing something.
I freely admit that right now, I don’t donate my time or volunteer like I should. Like most people, I make sporadic donations to charities during the year and more so during the Christmas season. I donated food to the food pantry through my local charity shop earlier this year because I couldn’t figure out online where the actual food pantry for my city is (pathetic, I know).
Picture from Salvation Army Home Page
But I do try a little. I promised myself at Thanksgiving when I walked by a Salvation Army bell ringer and avoided eye contact as I walked into Macy’s that from that point on this season, every time I make a trip to the mall I will donate a dollar. Right now I am painfully trying to save money for my own self to cover college expenses, car payments, etc.
Next Christmas, though, I really want to be in a good enough place financially that I can place a $50 bill into someone’s donation bucket. Or maybe just put 5 ten-dollar bills into five buckets over one day. Or maybe I can get an angel off the Angel Trees that are in the malls and make a small child happy for Christmas. I can do all this now, too, but it would hurt me financially since I have yet to save up the money for my summer school tuition bill.
Actually doing something charitable and sweet for someone else is the best feeling in the world. But changing a picture?