Falling for a Facebook fad

By Gregory Maynard

Sometimes a fad is worth a closer look. (photo illustration by Jacob Boetter)

I logged onto my Facebook recently only to find that all of my friends had turned their Facebook default pictures into cartoon characters. Feeling a little out of the loop, I put up a status asking what this new trend was. I asked around and found out that it was to support a Facebook group looking to end child abuse.
The group page, “Campaign to End Violence Against Children-Childhood Cartoon Faces,” says the main goal of the movement was to “raise awareness about Worldwide Violence Against Children and Child Abuse through [the] simple gesture of changing your Facebook Profile Picture into your favorite childhood cartoon characters.”
 OK, this makes sense. I immediately went on Google to search for pictures. I felt heroic for supporting such a noble cause. But another thought crept into my mind: How, exactly, would this help children?
I think I am right in assuming that most people did not read between the lines. Changing the default pictures was just a first step; the next step, according to the group page, was to donate money to some of the charities that were listed in the information box.
Would changing your default picture stop parents from neglecting their children? Would uploading Mufasa into your profile-pictures album help people realize that almost half of the abused children who died in 2008 were less than a year old? Honestly, how many people took the time to donate to any of these charities? How many people logged onto the group’s Facebook page to fully understand what the movement was all about? One of my friends actually told me it was “to support child abuse, bro’.” While I knew what he actually meant to say, the way he wrote it confirmed to me what I had been thinking all along.
We are all at fault in this one. We all followed the letter of the law (or cause), not fully understanding the intent behind it. Let’s be real – after seeing Daffy Duck, the Hulk, and Chuckie from “Rugrats” plastered all over your news feed, did you immediately get on the horn wondering what it was all about? And once you found out, did you immediately change your picture to Superman and move on with your life?
We must remember that this is just another Facebook fad we all fell victim to, just like “truth is” or look-alike celebrities. It was meant to be more than just putting your favorite cartoon character as your default, but the real meaning was most certainly lost in translation.