Friday, September 2, 2011

Newsflash: Your Facebook Status Won't Cure Breast Cancer (Or Anything Else For That Matter.)

Photo taken by me, Philadelphia Flower Show, March 2009
When I saw the status update from my cousin last night, I did a double take.

"I'm 1 week and already craving strawberry Pop-Tarts!"

ZOMG!  I thought.  She's pregnant!  

Before I could grab my phone to call my mother, I had a more rational thought. Wait just a second.  How the hell can she know she's one week pregnant?  

And then, a message from my cousin - to me and 12 other people. Which was highly unusual because my cousin does not email or chat.    

If you've been on Facebook recently, you know where this is going. What appears to be a cryptically bizarre "I'm-with-child!" announcement is really the latest incarnation of the tired (and ineffective, but we'll get to that in a bit) Facebook meme where one changes one's status in the name of  "supporting" or "raising awareness" about some cause.

We've seen this before when we proclaimed the colors of our bras to the world and told all of our hundreds of FB pals where we like to keep our purses, and more recently, when we changed our profile pictures to our favorite cartoon character so that every child in the world would be saved from abuse. (And, as a bonus, to "have fun fooling the guys."  Which in itself is so-freaking-6th-grade already and really, aren't we beyond that, girls?)

These memes (along with the "repost this if you want to _____" statuses) drive me batshit crazy.  And yes, I get the irony here that it's a little ridiculous to get so worked up over an innocuous Facebook game when there are real problems (such as the ones that the meme itself proclaims to solve, and more) in the world.  And I understand that it's just for fun, that it's harmless, that maybe it will "raise awareness" in one more additional person.

But really.  Who the fuck ISN'T ALREADY AWARE of cancer or child abuse or any other such issue?

You know who is painfully aware? The people who are living with this. People like Susan Niebur who blogs over at Toddler Planet and who I (and the entire blogosphere, it seems) consider a friend, even though she probably doesn't remember meeting me on several occasions at BlogHer '10.

I can't say anything about this nonsense that hasn't already been said more articulately by others.  And the person who, I think, says it best is Susan Niebur herself, in this post ("In the Name of Awareness") from January 8, 2010. 

Read it.  Then, instead of changing your Facebook status, change someone's perspective by sharing Susan's post with a friend.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Amy said...

THANK YOU for this post. Those statuses drive me absolutely livid as well because they are SO USELESS. You want to help - then actually do something. Changing your facebook status is a way to feel better about yourself for doing absolutely nothing to help anyone. Congratulations. Argh.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

YESSSSS, thank you - I go "batshit crazy" like you do when I see those frivolous posts. Drives me nuts.

Shelley said...

Well-put. The same thoughts have been swimming around my head this morning. It doesn't make me super angry, but it just seems so terribly pointless.

Dina said...

You already know where I stand on this. Thanks for blogging about it -- you on your soapbox reach a far larger audience than I do on mine. And, seriously, more people need to be reached!

Florinda said...

Do we need to start an awareness campaign to raise awareness that these "awareness-raising" status updates - especially the cryptic ones - are totally beside the point? Just askin'...

But seriously, thank you for this. And thank you for linking to Susan's post - which I've read before, but cannot be read (or said, or shared) enough.

Florinda said...

Just found this via BlogHer - she's of a similar mind (you'll have to copy & paste the link, since Blogger's comments don't make them live):

Anonymous said...

Obviously a lot of people enjoy playing the status game. Does it raise awareness? Nope. But lighten up; it doesn't do any harm, either.

acorndreaming said...

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

Nymeth said...

YES. And people tend to get SO angry and defensive if you ever bring this up :S "At least I'm doing something!". Um, no. No, you're not.

Lisa said...

Thank you! Drives me crazy. I particularly hate the ones like this recent one or the bra one.