Have you seen cartoon characters in place of your friends on Facebook? You're not alone - ABC news ponders where this meme came from. It seems to have begun in Greece, and not have had a social cause attached to the 'game' from the beginning. Somewhere when the idea jumped across the pond, the changing of ones avatar was suddenly all about raising awareness for child abuse.
Nevermind that it's a violation of Facebooks terms of service. Nevermind that changing your facebook avatar, instead of actually doing something seems like a perfect example of placebo-activism. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, you can argue that "we'll it's in the news so it DID help raise awareness, right?" but in the end it's accomplished zilch. Remember that time twitter overthrew the regime in Iran? Yeah, like that. Or as one Facebook user put it when he donated to Prevent Child Abuse America instead of changing his avatar picture :"Fuck your slacktivism." Gawker published a hypothetical conversation where a child abuser turns himself in just because people have changed their FB image all weekend.
Sometimes a fun game of replacing your avatar is just that, a fun game. We don't really know where the child abuse was attached to the meme, but this isn't the first time a brainless FB game crossed the pond and suddenly became a cause. Remember the bra colors? It seems US FB users need to tack a social cause to their memes to fully enjoy them.
Unlike the silent changing of avatars among your peers, Purple Shirt Day in show of support for the 6 dead gay teens was a meme that took the support to the streets, allowing everyone on the streets to see how many people are supportive of gay rights. Something isolated teens who feel different surely needed to see, and I hope they did.
Since it's been brought up, here are some organisations you might want to give money, time or help to: Unicef, Save The Children, End Abuse (USA), the Missing kids (also USA), CAPA and countless others.
I'm not changing my FB avatar, but that's because I can't decide which one will tick off more people, Pedobear or Jem and the Holograms?
Here's a sarcastic spoof CNN page that's being passed around which sums up what many people are thinking.