Listen, people. I need you to log on to Facebook and change your profile picture to a picture of…me. Yeah, that’s it: A PICTURE OF ME. This is to raise awareness of Crankypants Ranty Angry Person (CRAP) Syndrome, a little-known disease that causes totally mostly occasionally nice people like me to write blog posts that make all of their friends mad. I hear that pretty much any random schmo can start these little memes, and I said to myself, “Hey! I’m a random schmo! Imma start a Facebook meme!”
Now, don’t go sending any money for research on CRAP Syndrome. I’m not going to tell you anything about how to prevent it or what the symptoms are or anything like that. No, we’re just raising “awareness” here (and we’ll ignore the irony that we’re raising “awareness” by making everyone go on Twitter and say, “What’s the deal with all of the profile pictures of some random pale chick on Facebook?” Because like those breast cancer ones where you see a bunch of “I like it over the banister” posts, we don’t want people to be aware of our awareness). Once you’re aware, there’s nothing you’re supposed to do. Just be aware. Or something.
Yeah. This is an awesome idea. There’s no chance this system was invented by some drunk moron who said, “I wonder if I can get a bunch of people on Facebook to do something.” Nope. This is really going to change the world.
See, this drives me crazy. CRAZY. So crazy that I’m writing this ranty post, which will offend 72% of my Facebook friends and has nothing to do with genealogy.
I get wanting to participate in fun memes. I really do. In fact, I’m a big fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and I’m sorely tempted to change my avatar to a picture of Frostbite Falls (if I could find one that wasn’t copyright protected). But I’m not going to do it, because dammit, this does NOT help child abuse victims. It makes their horrible circumstance into a cutsy internet meme, where we all reminisce about our great childhood memories of cartoons to raise “awareness” of people who have horrible childhood memories. Am I the only one who thinks that’s ironic? Are abused kids saying to themselves, “Gee, it sucks that my dad beat the crap out of me, but look at that awesome picture of Frostbite Falls! Thank you, internet, for raising my awareness!” Are abusive parents saying, “Okay, well, I was going to beat junior senseless tonight, but these pictures of Boris and Natasha have totally changed my mind! Yay for awareness!”
No. I don’t think so. Although at least it’s not as bad as the one where we were raising “awareness” of breast cancer by saying what color our bras were. Clue: If you’ve had a mastectomy, you need a special bra for your prosthesis, and it doesn’t come in all that many colors. Breast cancer survivors were essentially excluded from the meme about breast cancer. What genius thought that one up? Because my money’s on some teenage boy who wanted to see if he could get a bunch of women to talk about their bras. Also, it took me two days to figure out what the hell people were talking about. How does making sure people don’t know why you’re doing it raise “awareness?” Am I in a parallel universe? Does that REALLY make sense to anyone?
Want to help child abuse victims? Here are some REAL things you can do:
- If you see something, speak up. Find out what’s going on. Call the police. Be the person who stuck up for the kid, because lots of people are not that person. Abuse feeds on silence.
- Help somebody get a job. You know what makes some abusive people worse? Financial trouble. Nobody turns into a sweetheart when they’ve been unemployed for months and can’t put food on the table. Help someone write a resume, get an interview, or figure out the online application system. Give to a food bank. Do something to alleviate the financial burden that millions of parents are experiencing this holiday season.
- Give parents a break. Offer to watch the kids for a while so the parent(s) can have a chance to get some stuff done. Parents who are less stressed out are less likely to lash out at their kids.
- Reach out. Recognize that the holidays are particularly rough for child abuse survivors. While you’re reminiscing about your holiday traditions or looking forward to flying home to see the folks, they…aren’t. They have less pleasant holiday memories, and often they have no one to visit, because the folks back home are the people who abused them. This is the time of year when they need their friends the most. It kills me that the instructions of this meme say that we’re supposed to see “no human faces, but an invasion of memories.” Aside from the fact that that word choice sounds a lot like those “I’m stranded in London at a conference I thought would be itch-free, so send me $2,271,” is this what abuse survivors need? Memories instead of human companionship? Doesn’t it make more sense that they need the opposite—human companionship to help quell the “invasion of memories?” Whoever thinks these things up certainly doesn’t suffer from an irony deficiency.
- Get help. If you’re a parent who is struggling, there is help out there. We’re lucky to live in the age of the internet, where we can find things with a few keystrokes. Parenting is hard. It’s okay to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing help.
- Donate. Find a shelter in your area that gives abuse victims a safe place to run to, and find out what they need. Then get it for them. Maybe they just need you to change your Facebook profile picture…but I doubt it.
Want to raise awareness of breast cancer? That one’s even easier. Instead of posting cryptic stuff like, “I like it over the kitchen table” or “Purple polka-dot,” try, “It’s the first of the month. Have you done your breast self-exam?” That’s awareness. Stuff that ties breast cancer to tittering double entendres is not going to save anyone’s life.
I realize that people do these things for fun, and that I’m a total Debbie Downer party-pooper with a big mouth, and that you totally want to unfriend me now. I don’t like preachy people either, and I always get mad at myself when I turn into one of them. I just wish we wouldn’t tie light, frothy internet fun to serious stuff that kills people…and I’d wish we’d think about the real message we’re sending to our friends when we do stuff like this. When we trivialize their problems, I think sometimes we make them feel unsupported and alone. That sucks. I wish we’d stop doing that.
We now return to you your regularly scheduled blog about dead people (who, incidentally, do not do anything on Facebook, which is one of the many reasons I love them so much).
Photo by AntToeKnee