Column – Social media ’causes’ only wastes your time

December 7, 2010 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

Remember that episode in the first season of “Community” where Annie and Shirley go a little crazy “supporting” causes they don’t understand? Making cookies, holding candlelit vigils and handing out fliers as if it were making a difference? Remember laughing at them for that?

Did any of you change your Facebook profile picture to a beloved cartoon character in order to “raise awareness of child abuse”? Because you’re guilty of the exact same thing.

Of course, some people only participated for the fun of it, and that’s fine. I myself took advantage of the old “celebrity look-alike” week to fool people into thinking I looked just like Paul Walker. There wasn’t a cause, and that was fine. Pointless and stupid, but fine.

But many people changed their profile picture last week because they actually thought they were sending a message. They thought, “Yeah! I’m going to let the world know that I oppose child abuse!” Really?

Because when I see that you have a Pokemon as your avatar, I don’t even give a passing thought to child abuse. My only thought is, “Heh, most of us were such nerds when we were kids.”

And this fad isn’t the only one to hit Facebook. Ladies, remember the odd meme of posting a status that contained nothing other than the color of the bra you were wearing at the time? How was that supposed to support breast cancer again? What about the “I like it on X”game, which turned suggestive statuses about purses into something that had links to women empowerment?

These examples in particular were odd because I know at least a couple of girls who said that the fun was not telling anybody (mostly guys) what the statuses were about and seeing how long it took them to catch on. So the entire point of mentioning your bra color was a secret? Isn’t that the opposite of raising awareness?

In all of the above cases – and others like them – no money was raised for the cause in question. Nobody was honoring the anniversary of any child abuse victims. Nobody was donating to breast cancer research. Nobody was trying to shelter all those poor purses who were raped on the kitchen table.

If you want to play some goofy games on the social networking site of your choice, fine. I’m not saying they can’t be fun in their own right. Several years ago, members of a message board I manage decided that everyone should change their avatar to a picture of their celebrity crush. It was dumb, but it was good for a few laughs, as well as much confusion from newcomers.

But don’t try to make yourselves feel better by trying to shoehorn messages or causes into your games. It helps nobody, and it only serves to waste time. If you really want to help a specific cause, there are plenty of ways to do so, many of which wouldn’t even take too much of your time or money.

Heck, with the “Causes” app on Facebook, you wouldn’t even have to leave the website in order to make a small difference. That’s sort of sad, but the option is there anyway.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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