Cartoonify yourself on Facebook - raise awareness of child abuse?

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.

CNN spoof
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Dabitch's picture

Why did this become a 'cause' when it hit the states/english speaking countries? Why did the bra-color meme become a "breast cancer awareness" thing when it hit the states? Is it because awareness is stuff white people like? :p

fairuse's picture

I am such a pushover for rant worthy topics. However, the past 24 hours has put too many good ones out and I need to pace my ranting. So, I will try to expand upon the concept my FB message threw at you (my FB visits are increasing, bummer!)

The attaching a cause to ones public self (an avatar) is the evolved Wear this XYZZY pin because it shows everyone you care . That kind of thinking has been taught in USofA public schools for awhile. It is part of the "Community Service " mumbo jumbo. I haven't talked to the teacher friend who tried to explain it all to me lately so I can't say how such teaching has faired. I do know from our last conversation that showing you care is a big part of the teaching.

Basically the education has worked well; there is a large group that is compelled to show they care without doing anything. Does the bra colors for breast cancer fit in this model? Sure it does.

I heard (read the post) about the bra colors for breast cancer today but it fits the show that you care model but it also has an exclusivity angle (sorry man boobs not your domain) in that the person can feel good about doing something. Again nothing has really been done.

Having these feel good statements popping up on FB is no surprise because it is the largest concentration of school age kids connecting with each other on the planet. Advertisers have the age and sex of FB account holders analyzed every way possible even, no doubt, to infinity.

That pretty much exhausts my limited knowledge on this topic and I may be only half right. I am listening.

Related: La Senza presents The Cup Size Choir - I thank @luckthelady / adrants / adverve for clueing me in on that pointless piece of work.
[Message]: You can look like me if you wear this product.

[fairuse]: More fuel on achieving the impossible self image goal. They are cartoons on TV, nobody looks like that without computer enhancement.

Dabitch's picture

I don't care if it looks like I'm talking to myself here, I need to add this, and talking about this on twitter ain't cutting it for me. (do join in here, where more than 140 chars are allowed)

I was watching the FB group page on occasion last night and lots of different people were spreading a very different rumor on its wall: that this was all an idea cooked up by paedophiles hoping that kids will see the cartoon and add them back as a friend, and we should all not play along, spread the message etc, very important, all caps - you get the drift.

These messages were removed, or simply washed away in other wall posts, but soon another person would be there with the same urgent need to alert everyone to the horrible conspiracy.

The Mail UK has an article today that @Sam__Cash showed me. "Facebook cartoon character campaign 'nothing to do with the NSPCC', charity says", and I was telling people late last night that NSPCC had nothing to do with it, it's just a meme with no sender, but in the UK they all thought it was the NSPCC and in the US it's tacked to various child help orgs. A previous thought that the US puritan heritage might cause the need to attach "a cause" to facebook flimsy so as to not feel guilty for just having a bit of fun doesn't quite fit for the UK since they're not dogged by puritanism, so I'm still baffled as to why these memes get causes attached to them when they reach english speaking countries.

In the Mail article - I'm sorry it's the mail, but still - we might find where the paedophile conspiracy comes from. Good old-fashioned suspicion.

But one Facebooker asked: ‘How is this gonna help stop child abuse? Sounds like something a paedophile would do!’
Another user posted the following warning: ‘The paedophiles have it easy finding the kids this way from a cartoon in your past! Obviously if someone posts Spongebob Square Pants it’s probably a kid, now Betty Boop an adult!’

This reminds me of a great cartoon I have, where one stockbroker on the phone says: "This stock will excel" and he's overheard by a hyena-crowd of other stockbrokers who break out in a frenzy "...excel..? SELL? SELL!!!" to which the original one finally responds; "I can't work like this, Good-Bye" and then that turns into a feeding frenzy of : bye...? buy! BUY! BUY! BUY!

It is rather amusing to watch it in real life. A game of telephone over facebook.

bobbbyg's picture

I knew this was vile. A campaign that actually targets the victims of the abuse it purports to call awareness to. And leave it to the idiot masses in The States ( my home) to run with it and promote it to the "nth" degree so that we can all feel better about supporting a cause without actally doing anything (except possibly further harming the victims). Oy, Oy, Oy ... The most evil hoax of the holiday season (hopefully).

Dabitch's picture

Not sure it was a hoax, it was just a "show your favorite cartoon from when you were a kid on your avatar" meme that suddenly became "a cause", and then after that became "OMG PEDOS ARE BEHIND IT" - both are rumors spread faster than lightning on facebook.

It's just a meme. Sometimes a meme is just a meme.

fairuse's picture

Holey Smokes! How did I click on that Jem video? Gadzooks that is cruel and unusual punishment to my ears.

I forgot why and what this comment was about because I answered my mobile.