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.
*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.