I recently noticed that my Facebook feed was inundated with photos of my lady friends with no make-up on. Actually, that’s not quite true: first I noticed an abundance of people moaning about their Facebook feed being inundated with photos of lady friends with no make-up on.
Ever the intrepid journalist, I dug deeper and discovered that the whole thing was apparently part of a new campaign (read: internet fad) to raise awareness for breast cancer. You know, in case you’d never heard of it, before.
This initially struck me as odd, because I couldn’t for the life of me work out a correlation between breast cancer –or cancer of any variety– and putting up a photo of yourself with no make-up on. Then I noticed people saying how proud they were of all the brave women doing it.
There is nothing brave about not wearing make-up, and the fact that anyone would think it is is indicative of what a poisonous fucking society we live in. I’m not point-scoring here, but about 90% of the women I know look just as lovely with no make-up on as they do with a bit of slap. Now, maybe that’s just because I carefully cultivate a circle of extremely attractive friends, or maybe it’s because I don’t buy into that bullshit that you have to look like a celebrity on the cover of a magazine to feel good about yourself, (ignoring the fact that even the celebrities on those magazine covers don’t actually like that, make-up or no make-up.)
Aside from that incredibly superficial aspect, though, I mainly took issue with the whole ‘raising awareness’ part. Here’s why I get a bee in my bonnet about this particular fad, and ‘awareness’ campaigns in general: 90% of the posts I see regarding them never tell me what they’re actually about. Usually it’s just a post containing whatever the gimmick is and then a hashtag to ensure you get maximum exposure/attention. In other words, the only thing it’s raising awareness of is the profile of the person doing it.
I should point out that I’ve since seen several people post their photos along with a link to a donation page, or a number to text your donations to; as well as pointing out that they, themselves, were donating and, while I normally fucking detest people boasting about giving to charity, in this case I think it’s extremely important to note. Fair play to them, anyway, because, like I said, a huge number of the no make-up posts I have seen just say ‘#raisingawareness for breast cancer’ and then that’s it.
Okay, I’m aware, thanks. Now what?
This is where the line begins to blur, for me, between raising awareness for a cause and just joining in on a self-aggrandising ego parade where you can feel like you’re making a change while, at the same time, putting in the least possible amount of effort. Taking a selfie and putting it on the internet takes seconds to do. Watch, I’ll do it right now.
Okay, done. Do you feel more aware yet? More importantly have you given any money to charity? Probably not, and that’s the problem. If you don’t donate then you are contributing nothing, you’re just jumping on a bandwagon so you can congratulate yourself and pretend you’re making a difference. Just being aware of something is meaningless if you don’t act on it, and too many people are content to talk a big game and then refuse to answer the call to action.
I know that charities have come out and said that they’ve received an influx of donations in the wake of this campaign, but here’s the thing: I’d bet my balls to a barn dance that the majority of those donations would have been made at one point or another anyway; this was just as good a time as any. And here’s something else I know: the people who did donate didn’t donate because they saw your face with no make-up on, they donated because cancer is a shitty thing and a cure would be a nice thing to have.
There is a definite conflict between message and motive when, as I mentioned, a good deal of people I see taking part in the campaign make absolutely no effort to expand upon the actual campaign itself; they just put a photo up and wait for the ‘you still look beautiful’ comments to pour in. What exactly do they think that will achieve? Other than stoking their own ego, I mean.
All the women who put their photos up along with the donation links/numbers and donated themselves? Good on them. All the people running marathons and climbing mountains and shit to raise money for their chosen cause? Maximum respect. The wonderful men and women who run and participate in things like Awesome Games Done Quick and Child’s Play? Some of my favourite people.
I love those guys, and that’s not even mentioning all the people actually working every day to find cures for the many dreadful things currently killing us on a daily basis, (and I’m including the many LGBT and other equal rights charities in that group, since ignorance is probably the most destructive disease in the world,) but do you know what all those things require that just posting a photo of your dumb face doesn’t? Sacrifice.
Whether it be your time, money or the physical stress you put your body under, (no, not the mountain climbing, I’m talking about the guy I watched playing Super Mario 64 with one god damn hand,) actually putting yourself out there and working to make a difference is worth so much more than the hollow gesture of doing something you do anyway, at no personal cost, and then like-baiting the shit out of it on Facebook so you can convince yourself you’re part of the solution.
Without going full ‘this is the problem with society today,’ this really is the problem with society today: everyone is more than happy to join in and play at making the world a better place, but not nearly enough people are willing to pony up the cash or in other ways inconvenience themselves in a manner that would actually benefit their cause. We’ve all seen that fuckwit in the pub, pounding on the bar and doing his ‘the things I could do if I were in charge’ speech and we all know that, after one day under his leadership, the whole country would go to ruin, because it’s easy to run your mouth when you don’t actually have anything on the line.
I don’t do nearly enough for charity, and I haven’t given blood recently because for about four years you’d have had more success sticking an optic in my vein and pouring a nice gin and tonic than you would getting any blood worth putting in another human, but I am a registered organ donor, and I have done things in the past to raise money for causes other than myself. I won’t list them here because this isn’t a charitability dick-measuring contest, but I just wanted to make it clear that I do practice what I preach, since I’m fully aware that the only thing the internet fosters more than pointless fads is blatant hypocrisy.
In truth, I don’t really know why I’m posting this, I just felt like I needed to vent on the subject, so let me close by saying this:
I don’t think donating to charity is dumb. I don’t think raising money is dumb. However, here’s what I don’t just think, I know: a good deal of people who take part in ‘awareness’ campaigns don’t donate money. Ever. Just like signing a petition, it’s easier to stick a picture up on Facebook or Twitter and wait for the likes to roll in than it is to actually get off your arse and make a change in the world.
If you really want to inspire people to act, next time say ‘I just donated £10 to Cancer Research/Folk with Shite Hearts/Whatever, now you do it’ so people know you can put your balls in the cooking pot when you have to; instead of just saying ‘lol no makeup girlies’ and giving them an easy, no-effort way to pretend they’re affecting change.
Change comes from action, not awareness, and not getting thirty likes on your Facebook status for doing something inconsequential.
Oh, and while I’ve got you here, go and donate to my friend who is running a marathon in aid of Cancer Research UK, or any of the other awesome charities I linked to above.