Battling Child Abuse, One Cartoon Avatar at a Time
Earlier today, I saw a friend’s status update on Facebook announcing that she was changing her avatar to a cartoon character from her childhood in response to a call to join the fight against child abuse. You also may have seen the update:
“Change your FB Profile Picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The Goal? To not see a human face on Facebook until Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against Child Abuse, copy & paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same.”
So, being as much against child abuse as the next guy, I showed my support of this worthwhile cause by changing my own avatar to one of my favorite characters from Warner Brothers stable of misfit cartoons, Marvin the Martian. I used to love seeing him and Duck Dodgers wage their limited battle of wits in the 24th 1/2 Century. And his clash with Bugs Bunny was classic…”Hare-way to the Stars“, it was called. Now THAT was cartoons. Anyway…
The fun started later in the day when I started seeing a lot of comments on Facebook and other blogs, like Mashable, that decried the effort as being meaningless and useless. Changing your avatar, the critics said, does as much good as putting a pink ribbon on your picture to prevent breast cancer and amounts to what they term slacktivism. Wikipedia describes slacktivism as, “a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts also tend to dilute awareness campaigns and require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist.”
Man, did they miss the point. I am of the opinion that gestures done in solidarity with a particular cause enhance awareness of the cause rather than dilute it. It’s true that we all are aware of the problem of child abuse that exists around the world, but unless you are a victim of it, related to a victim or a child abuser yourself, it simply isn’t in the forefront of your consciousness on a daily basis, any more than breast or pancreatic cancer is. Therefore, any additional exposure you get to it can only sharpen one’s focus upon it, like good word of mouth advertising. And word of mouth is a powerful force in marketing. If someone with thousands of Facebook friends changes their avatar in support of child abuse, and the majority of those friends see it and are moved to replicate the act or, better yet, do some research on the subject and perhaps even donate to the cause, then the simple act of changing an avatar has done some good. At the end of the day there may be many thousands of people who are now more aware of the problem than they were before, and who may be moved to open their wallets. Which leads me to my next point…
While supporting a cause does not necessitate that you do so monetarily, neither does it mean that you can’t make a small donation to a local or national organization dedicated to that cause. The more I thought about it the more I felt compelled to do something more than just change my avatar to Marvin the Martian. I therefore went to the web site of Prevent Child Abuse America and made a $25 donation to that organization.
Will it do any good? No, not directly. But if anyone reading this will also go donate whatever they can, and tell others to likewise donate,, then perhaps we can, in our small way, make some kind of difference in the life of even one child. If you feel like making a donation or have made one, please let me know in comments below.