The Facebook mob mentality never ceases to amaze me. It took no time at all for the “nomination” trend to inundate my newsfeeds with people taking “no make up selfies” in support of Breast Cancer and even less time for the haters to grab their pitchforks.
I entirely understand the mob’s sentiment: bugger all is being done for Breast Cancer by taking a picture of yourself for your Facebook friends to like and think: “gee, she sure is magnanimous”. However, I find the assumptions made about the integrity of the initiative are somewhat misguided, really negative and very often missing the point of why such a significant number of people are participating. I just hope that these people publically announcing their opinions, both for and against the trend, are fully informed before they post their selfies or light their torches.
Before I go any further, I will aid some of the non-Facebook-regulars by briefly explaining what has been going on over the last few days. Since the start of 2014, the alcohol-drinking world jumped aboard the “Neknomination” bandwagon, myself included. Initially, a Facebook user would be required to take a video of themselves nek a beer (or “down” a drink) and thereafter nominate a few of their friends to do the same. As it always goes, before we could say “Buffalo” the masses were competing relentlessly over whom could do the most original nomination and cries of “foul” began sounding at this perceived show of indulgence.
Many people tried to create spin-offs of the neknomination trend that had a slightly more positive, slightly less spoilt-brat-esque, hopefully just-as-popular message for the world. However, the majority of these spin-offs were about as successful as “Cory in the House” after “That’s So Raven” finished on Disney Channel. Basically, until just the other day, I had not seen any “Give a meal to a poor person” nomination received with the same delight as “Down a drink really impressively”.
On Wednesday 19 March, Melissa Paris made a Facebook page called: “No Make Up Selfie for Cancer Awareness”. Any person who wished to be involved would show their support of the Breast Cancer cause by taking an entirely make-up-free “selfie” (this should need no definition, but just for formalities: a selfie is a picture you take of yourself).
I am excited to speculate on the repercussions of this trend. You’ve all seen the memes and statuses by now that condemn the vanity of the situation and exude feelings of distaste. Cancer Research UK, however, saw the potential in such a widespread medium and joined onto the trend by offering a service whereby people could send a donation to the association via SMS. People began attaching their screenshotted SMSes to their make-up free selfie to show that they had made a donation as well as taken a selfie. Within 24 hours, the association had received 800,000 SMSes and in the proceeding 24 hours, it was reported that £2million had been raised.
We live in a modern world and social networking is a significant part of ordinary society whether we like it or not. I agree that it is slightly degenerative of humanity that we cannot donate to a charity without telling our 1000 closest friends about it… but this doesn’t stop the cause being a good one.
Facebook, Twitter and other media sites are excellent means of raising awareness. If you browse backwards in my archives, you would see, in the blog post “I Am Somebody”, I have made my feelings clear that I have no problem with Facebook being a means of rallying people, provided it elevates from talk to action – which, in this case, it really has. The millions of selfies that are being circulated internationally only increase the number of people aware of the trend and hopefully only increase the number of people who contribute towards the underlying cause.
This is my suggestion: do not reject the entire trend on the basis that you disagree with the measures taken to make it viral. If you have a problem with the ethics of the whole thing, you have a few options: ignore it, or donate and do not tell anyone about it. But just for the record and in the least aggressive way possible: making a status about how you donated but don’t agree with putting up a selfie is hypocritical, for it still reads: “Hey everyone, look how charitable I am” and you are clearly rejecting the selfies for the wrong reasons.
Above all, many people have lost loved ones to the Cancer struggle – respect them by letting them respect those loved ones in whichever manner they so choose, it really is their business. Telling someone they are a bad person because they posted a selfie is insensitive, presumptuous and just makes you look like an asshole.
It is not that I am either for or against the trend. There is so much room for debate and I am sure there are many other ways to raise money and awareness for Cancer. However, as much as it may pain people to do, drop the pitchforks and extinguish the torches because this way is working for now. Ultimately, so long as the Cancer Foundations worldwide are receiving your money, I really don’t mind who you tell and what your motives are for telling them.
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