Monthly Archives: March 2014

Slacktivism

Right now my Facebook feed is filled with girls posting pictures of themselves without make up on. Apparently this is being done in order to raise awareness of cancer. Is it being done because such rapidly spreading trends are proven to raise peoples’ awareness of cancer?  Or is this ‘raising awareness’ simply justifying somewhat attention seeking behaviour?

Before I deeply offend anyone, I am wholly supportive of any activity that seeks to improve people’s understanding of such a worldwide health issue, and contributes towards the ongoing research being carried out that is pivotal to improving peoples ability to live with and survive cancer. But ‘no make up selfies’ are not the way to do it.

Firstly, and most obviously,  posting a photo with the caption “here’s my no makeup selfie for cancer” does absolutely nothing. If you seriously think people are going to see that photo and say to themselves “Cancer? What on earth is that? Thought it was a star sign?”, you are simply incorrect. Now I should point out that some (in fact probably the majority) of the people most recently putting up these photos have done so along with a picture of the donation they have made directly to cancer research. This is great, do that, absolutely no complaints, doesn’t matter how much it is, keep doing that. Those that don’t, you could say it’s completely harmless and what does it matter? Well the other issue I have is with the nomination that accompanies these pictures.

I don’t think this nomination process is nice at all. It puts the nominated person in a completely unfair position, particularly those who are really not comfortable with posting pictures of themselves, makeup free or not. You are left with a choice, either post a personal picture of yourself on the internet, or feel guilty for not doing so because it is all “for a good cause”. Yes it is essentially for a good cause, and perhaps the more of these pictures that are posted, the more people will actually make donations, but it’s putting people in this unpleasant position that I really don’t agree with.

There are still good things to take out of this. The speed at which it spread among Facebook users has absolutely blown my mind, in the same way the ‘neknomination’ craze did (which, just in case you’re interested, I despised even more than this new well meaning fad, but let’s not sound like too much of a killjoy). Surely there is some way we can harness this and actually make something happen, get something productive out of it? It’s a basic starting point, but raising awareness of issues that aren’t well publicised, such as the Holocaust-like camps being run in North Korea, or the shockingly common practice of human trafficking and modern day slavery, can at least make better use of the internet and it’s unparalleled ability to spread whatever manages to gain enough momentum to go viral.

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