First of all, before I get this off my chest, I realize that there are people out there who are genuinely involved in charities, are genuinely raising awareness and who are helping to promote good causes.
As you may have guessed, my rant this week is about raising awareness for charities, on social media and also in real life.
With it being November or “Movember”, I have seen a lot of facial hair in the last few weeks. The aim of Movember is for blokes to grow their facial hair, and raise money in the process, which goes to Prostate cancer charities and research. This is a FABULOUS cause, and I have donated money to several of my bloke friends, who are now almost at the end of the month, sporting ‘taches the Village People would be proud of. I’m all for raising money for fighting cancer.
HOWEVER, I happen to know and know of a fair number of men who are growing their facial hair, who aren’t actually doing much else, and aren’t actually raising any money. Not only do they look ridiculous, but in reality they aren’t achieving a lot.
This brings me to my main rant….
When you click on a photo on Facebook, about a particular cause, and “share” it with all your friends, with a suitably pontificating sentence or two about injustice and that we all must share this photo and raise awareness of said cause, you are actually doing almost NOTHING for this cause.
Case in point. The Joseph Kony thing. We all were on the receiving end of the video that went viral on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (which turned out to be factually incorrect and the group behind it had dubious financial leanings) and it was shared, shared and shared again with suitable indignance and outrage at the brutality he is wreaking. BUT, did it actually do anything? Not really. Basically, these campaigns on Facebook are a way of making use feel better about ourselves, that we’re “doing” something, by sharing, when actually we are not achieving much at all. I somehow dont think that Joseph Kony was on Facebook and Twitter, seeing all the posts about him, felt contrite and decided to stop his brutal reign of terror and be a nice person. In fact, 6 months later, he has once again slipped into obscurity, to be replaced by the next cause!
Also, the campaign on Facebook to “raise” awareness of Breast Cancer, by posting weird, or slightly suggestive posts on your Facebook, about your shoe size, your bra color, where your handbag is? WHAT IS POINT?
I’d be interested to see how many women actually saw those posts and went upstairs and did a proper breast self exam, and now do them regularly? Or how much money was donated to Breast Cancer Research? I’d be surprised if there was a huge increase. Again, we post these things, pat ourselves on the back, then trot on back to our normal lives. Social media placates our consciences once again! Also, people don’t check the accuracy of some of the stuff posted on social media. Peeps, you need to think before you share. Some stuff isn’t genuine, or the people behind it aren’t actually who they say you are. Think, then click, PLEASE!
Seriously people? I’ve had friends and family suffer with, and tragically some have died from breast cancer. I am very aware of how devastating this illness can be. Yes, Joseph Kony is a brutal, evil man, and should be stopped, but we need to stop pretending that social media is the new way to do this. Yes, it may raise some awareness, yes it may bring them to the public eye, but actually, in reality the only way we can raise any changes is to do some of the following things… This new trend is called Slactivism, by the way, it even has a name!
Volunteer your time to a charity that works for these organisations, that is genuine, above board and is giving it’s funds to the right places to fight cancer, evil African dictators etc.
Donate Money. Again check who and where your money is going. I’ve worked for Oxfam, I know how the system works, I am VERY choosy about where I give my money to.
Go out and DO SOMETHING! Run in a race, grow a moustache, shave your head, climb a mountain, sell all your possessions… whatever you can do.
Wake up guys, share the posts, pictures and videos if you want, but when you’ve done that, get up off your bum and go and DO something too! Even if it’s checking your own breasts, reminding your wife, mother, sister or girlfriend to, or arrange to see your GP for a prostate exam if you fall into a risk category, or find a charity that works with war torn countries and see how you can help/donate.
In January 2013, I will be putting my money where my mouth is. I will be shutting down my FB and Twitter for 60 days. I originally planned on 30, but have decided I will do 60, and I will be raising money for the Multiple Myeloma charity (my mother died of complications related to her treatment of this disease) and in June I will be running in the Race for Life for Cancer Research. I may rant, but at least I will also be doing something useful. I wonder if anyone cares to join me?
That’s my rant for this week. I won’t apologize if this offends, maybe it will motivate. If you are raising money for the various campaigns Ive mentioned, or other worthy causes, then I thank you with all my heart and cheer you on. If posting stuff on Face Book and Twitter is all you do, maybe you need to think before you post and maybe, just maybe, you might actually do something too!
Have a good weekend!
Some links to charities and organisations that are genuine and are working towards curing cancer and helping people.