Archive for soapbox

The Facebook Cartoon Meme

Posted in politics, satire with tags , , on December 6, 2010 by shewalkssoftly

I rarely step on my soapbox and get personal here, but I feel the need to comment on the recent facebook trend of posting cartoon characters as profile pictures to “fight child abuse.”

Let me make this clear: if you posted a cartoon, I’m NOT insulting you. I have no problem with anyone taking part in the trend.

My beef is with the trend itself and what it says about our culture; the unprecedented distance between one’s public dedication to a cause, and any actual measure of reflection or helpful behavior.

Symbols have been iconic representations of various social causes for decades (red ribbons, pink ribbons, rubber bracelets). At least the proceeds from these culturally fabricated products went toward the cause they represented. A small step, but a step nonetheless.

In the social networking world, trends like the cartoon character meme are devoid of ANY direct connection to or impact on the cause itself. No profit, no research, no inquiry, no time volunteered, no outreach program, no benefit.

These trends are yet another reflection of the narcissism that now pervades our technologically advanced society. Only in an extremely egocentric, disconnected population could one believe that posting a favorite character or listing the color of their bra (in the recent “breast cancer awareness” meme) has ANY influence over the true misfortune at stake. Yet I’ve seen an alarming degree of smug self-satisfaction from those who comply.

Sadly, I’d wager that upon the spread of the cartoon character meme, most people briefly thought “Yes, child abuse is wrong.”…and then spent half an hour googling the perfect ironically retro cartoon image to post, enraptured in their own nostalgia. I’ve seen plenty of “Dude, I loved Thundercats!,” but ZERO comments about child abuse itself.

Suddenly, awareness of a good cause becomes about ME, ME, ME! MY favorite things! MY pictures! What do I like? What am I wearing?

How does a call for charity become self-centered and completely divorced from charitable behavior?

I am wholeheartedly grateful for the role technology plays in my life (including online networking), yet I find myself missing the days when people didn’t think what they had for breakfast was newsworthy enough to be shared with everyone they’ve ever known on three different sites. I miss when caring about a cause meant volunteering time and sharing valuable information.

The closer we get, the more disconnected we become.

99% of the time, I ignore solipsistic social networking trends, even when they involve causes very close to my heart.

Here is a cartoon I liked as a kid:

Are children still being abused now? Wait…Really? Are you sure?

I’m afraid I agree with Gossamer here: