Community service… without the service

Welcome to my blog! That was kind of cheesy. Anyway, there is really no rhyme or reason to the topics I might talk about here, which is really a reflection of my personality. Typically one can’t predict what might come out of my mouth (unless it’s puppies.)

So I didn’t really know what to write for my first post, but then this topic kind of fell into my lap. I logged in to Facebook on Friday to notice that many of my friends’ profile pictures were now of cartoon characters — particularly ones that are no longer airing. Wondering what this was all about, I saw a friend’s status update explaining the reason for the change:

“Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday (December 6), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but a stash of memories. This is for eliminating violence against children.”

Activism is about as old as politics, and its methods to attaining a goal are always changing. The apparent campaign (which may or may not actually be a hoax) is just the latest of many that falls within the bounds of slacktivism, a term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction, according to Wikipedia. Slacktivism requires little or no effort, and many activities people participate in in the name of activism can be considered examples of it. Practices such as the Livestrong bracelet trend and participation in Facebook events like wearing purple for LGBT awareness use social media and other mediums to create awareness.

I’m not saying these attempts are useless — quite the opposite actually. Social media create and continue communication between people; why not use them for good, rather than just fun? Awareness is important to a cause. Without it, people wouldn’t know about or understand the cause in question. But the problem arises when support stops there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. I’ve done a fair share of community service in my 21 years on this planet, but I could certainly stand to do some more. I’ve participated in social media-motivated awareness, like the aforementioned purple-wearing event. But if that’s where the activism stops, everyone has a serious problem.

So while I’ll keep attending awareness-based events I’m invited to on Facebook, I’m going to make an attempt to take that step past being a slacktivist and start doing some real community service again as well. It certainly feels a lot better, not to mention you can actually see the resulting good. The world will thank you for it.