Of cartoon characters and child abuse

What’s up with everyone in Facebook putting a cartoon character as their profile picture? It began last night, when I opened my account and saw most of my friends have already done that. Then looking closer, it dawned on me that this is some kind of a campaign that has gone viral. Besides the cartoon character, the following message was posted as their status:

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

This Facebook campaign obviously spread like wildfire as almost every one of my friends had changed their profile pic and is carrying the above message in their status. Almost, not all.

So did I change my profile picture as well? No. I had my reservations about this. Can changing one’s profile actually lead to the elimination of child abuse? I thought I was the only one with this sentiment. I’m glad one of my friends, who I shall call “Dudes”  to protect her privacy, pointed this out in her FB status. From that simple message, it led to a very good discussion about the “campaign’s” merits and demerits.

To me, the campaign allowed people to reminisce through cartoons – and it is nice to see childhood cartoon characters that were almost forgotten –but does the issue of child abuse crossed my mind? That is a good question.  The answer is yes and no. My sense is that while this campaign indeed raises awareness (though to what extent – and will it  translate into some concrete positive action in the real world?) it steers away from the advocacy itself. It feels like the so-called campaign’s spotlight is on the cartoon character itself and veers away from the issue of child abuse and violence. Would the cartoon characters come to your mind when abuse and violence happened to a child? It’s just irresponsible to launch a Facebook campaign like this and append, as an afterthought, a line about critical issues. Kahit naka-ALL CAPS pa!

Another interesting thought that was raised in the said discussion is what kind of thoughts crossed into people’s minds when they blindly jumped into the bandwagon?*  Just like the bra and bag campaigns  – of which I am guilty of taking part in before – I  never gave a thought about how, in Pete’s name,  my bra colour, or where I placed my bag, was supposed to increase breast cancer awareness or something?!?!? What was I thinking? Yeah, that’s the thing..  I wasn’t thinking at all! Now I know better.

Pardon me if I am speaking French here…  I congratulate those who create messages like the one above but I hope next time, viral messages for FB campaigns – or any online channels  for that matter, should be more well-thought of and well-developed, and not misleading and out-of-touch like the one above. But that’s just me.

NB:

*I’m not saying anything, I respect other people’s thoughts and actions and I have nothing against people who joined this in FB. As I’ve said earlier, I also took part in this kind of viral campaign. I adhere to the principle Live and let live. But this is my blog and I’m entitled to my thoughts and opinions. I’m just thinking out loud here as an, errrm, development communication practitioner for academic/research purposes.

5 thoughts on “Of cartoon characters and child abuse

  1. true sis. i don’t really get how it could help those campaigns. the thought is there and for awhile too before i got caught in the trend with everyone doing it but after several times, I began to ask myself, what exactly happened afterwards?
    did i do anything significant? Perhaps it raised awareness, yes but I think people’s attention is fleeting and the net makes it all the more so.
    And I would agree with you. The focus is then shifted into the campaign vehicle in this case yung cartoons and the real issue has been relegated to the background. I’m saying this coz there was a thread in one of my friends profiles discussing who has the cutest cartoon image rather than what the campaign actually means.
    Of course, those who started this is commendable, and I’m sure they have good things in mind, and yes people have a choice to join the bandwagon or not. But I’d rather not…
    And one other reason (actually the real reason)I’m not getting into it? Nalilito ako kung sino ichachat ko hahaha! Iba iba na profile image eh.
    Shhh, i wrote a blog post already. Sowweee Madam Dilis..

  2. Don’t be sorry, Lui. After all, one the earliest aim of blogging is for exchange of thoughts and ideas. I’m glad you see this in a similar way as I do. I just echoed the prevailing sentiments from the discussion I joined in earlier. Makes us really ponder, and out of the blue – there was the ‘AHA!’ moment. I agree we could use social networking sites for any kind of advocacy and cause but we have to make sure that it is properly developed and strategized to ensure that the intended message or goal will come across successfully.

    1. P.S…. at natawa ako sa last paragraph. Totoo, di mo na alam kung sino ang naka-online. Naku, hanggang Dec 6 pa naman bago bumalik sa dati ang profile pics nila! *lol*

  3. Ouch!

    I am snoopy until Monday. LOL!

    Well, to each his own, daw. Yan nalang sabihin ko kase hindi ko kaya i-defend ang choice ko at hindi ako kasing eloquent nyong dalawa. Hahaha!!!

    1. Sam, wag kang mag-alala. Ranting lang naman ito at umandar ang devcom antenna ko. Ang issue ko ay sa content development at interesado akong malaman kung na-deliver nga ang targeted message sa kinauukulan. As I’ve said, for research purposes. heheheh.

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