There’s a new meme that’s struck Facebook. It goes something like this:
I changed my profile pic to a cartoon from my childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on facebook until Monday the 6th of December. Join the fight against child abuse and invite your friends to do the same!
So how exactly does this stop child abuse? It doesn’t. This movement is the very definition of “slacktivism”. That’s a term I learned from my friend Jack. It describes online activity that gives all the appearance of being concerned and active for a cause without actually doing anything tangible for it.
Some will say that changing your profile picture to that of a cartoon helps raise awareness. But I’m skeptical that it actually raises any awareness. Stopping-child-abuse is something that’s easy to get behind. No one is actually in favor of child abuse. It’s like taking a courageous stance against cancer. The fact is, that for many people, this is a way to think about their favorite childhood cartoon and share it with their friends. I guarantee that in the last week much more thought has gone into finding pictures of cartoon characters than actually finding ways to stop child abuse. People don’t want to think about child abuse, but thinking about childhood cartoons is fun.
I’m not opposed to memes. I think they’re fun. But I was discouraged to see this one trying to piggy-back off of an issue I care a lot about. So I decided to try to make the meme meaningful. Every time I saw someone change their profile picture I posted this comment on their Facebook wall:
I noticed you changed your profile pic to show your support against child abuse. Would you consider donating to Olive Crest? I really believe in their work. I’ll match your donation up to $5. Just let me know. http://bit.ly/g1pk5Z
Olive Crest is the foster agency that my wife and I partner with. I know that they actually do something real and tangible to help stop child abuse. So if there was any way that I could get people to put their money where their mouth is I wanted to take it and funnel it towards Olive Crest.
So far I’ve had 6 people tell me they made a donation. That’s out of the approximately 40 people I contacted. According to Bit.ly I generated at least 129 clicks in 3 days. But it’s six people that weren’t already donating to Olive Crest and 6 people that wouldn’t have done it unless had they changed their profile pic to a cartoon character. So maybe the meme worked after all.