First, I’d like to get something out of the way:
I’m sorry if you participate in social media campaigns; if you participated in today’s big social media campaign (#bumpday).
I’m sorry if you posted in a vague Facebook status where you put your purse when you get home in the evening to let people know breast cancer is out there.
I’m sorry if you did the Ice Bucket challenge or posted a #nomakeupselfie or whatever.
I’m not saying you are vacuous. I’m not saying you are lazy.
I’m saying your campaign is vacuous and lazy.
I’m not saying you sit behind your computer and do the easiest things possible, without ever actually lifting a finger or volunteering your time or donating even just a dollar to really help those in need you claim your social media challenges and campaigns help.
I’m saying that a lot of people – in the general sense – are.
A lot of people are posting their social media challenges and literally doing nothing else.
They posted pictures of their favorite childhood cartoon character on their Facebook status to raise awareness of child molestation – and really thought that stopped molesters and helped children. And really did nothing else but pat themselves on the back for their high level of philanthropic outreach.
They did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to get out of donating money. Sure, the Ice Bucket Challenge did raise an obscene amount of money for ALS research – from people that didn’t do it. (It was either do the challenge, or donate the money; and while a lot of people did both, a lot of people sincerely thought taking the bucket of ice was an adequate contribution).
So today is Bump Day – a day to raise awareness of motherhood and growing healthy babies. A day to support mothers – new, old, to-be; and band together for the overall health of moms around the world. I get it, and a lot of people I know have done it. Some are pregnant right now, some recently had babies. Some haven’t had a baby in over a decade.
I get it. But I’m also fucking sick of it.
One of the women that posted a photo in my Instagram feed is 8 months pregnant. She posted her #bumpday pic with a little caption about it being in honor of maternal and prenatal health. I happen to know she’s smoked cigarettes for the entire 8 months.
Another “friend” (read: person I knew of in high school over 15 years ago) posted her “bump” 6 months postpartum. It was a flat stomach shot. In the comments she rambled on and on about how she’s glad she isn’t a “fat fuck anymore,” like she apparently felt she was when she was pregnant. Sort of missed the point.
And then there are those with bump loss, and by that I mean #bumpday is just another fucked up reminder that not everyone is destined for an easy path to first time or repeat motherhood. If I were to post my bump photo, it would be for the multiple miscarriages I have had over the last few years, the most recent being just three months ago.
The point is this: for every well-meaning and good person out there participating in these vacuous social media campaigns, there are so many others just participating with no good intentions whatsoever.
The bottom line is that if you want to participate in these social media campaigns, the important thing is to follow up the photos and the posts and the Tweets with actions. Here are just a few suggestions.
1. Donate Money
This is the easiest thing you could possibly do in addition to or instead of participating in social media campaigns.
You can literally do this while sitting on your ass, binge watching Orange Is the New Black, eating pizza directly from the box because you’ve given up so much that you can’t even be bothered to walk 10 feet into your kitchen to get a plate.
Some social media campaigns have even made it so easy that you can just text a number from your phone – it isn’t even usually a full length phone number – and they automatically tack on $5 to your phone bill, which gets donated.
You literally only have to hit five numbers on your cellphone keypad and click send.
2. Donate Time
This is obvious. Every charity needs volunteers. Every organization needs people to help. Sometimes it’s as simple as making an hour’s worth of phone calls, or stuffing envelopes.
The only caveat is that this will require you to get your ass off the couch, if even just for long enough to sign up to help from home.
3. Learn About the Cause You Are Supposedly Supporting
I guarantee you that a vast majority of people posting their #bumpday photos haven’t a single fucking clue what it’s about.
I also know from personal experience that a lot of kids who were participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had no idea what the hell they were doing besides pouring ice on each other and laughing.
And this it the ultimate folly of social media campaigns: they often don’t raise awareness about dick.
I still have no idea what the #nomakeupselfie thing was about, and while I didn’t participate in it I should have at least taken the time to get to know the issues at hand. It seems as though we – collectively, as a world – have forgotten that knowledge is power. Or we’ve somehow confused our Instagram photos and bullshit Facebook status games with knowledge and understanding.
4. Listen To Someone You Know That May Be Affected
We don’t always know people that are affected directly by the issues having to do with the campaigns we portray to support in our posts on social media.
But we all know where we could find one. We all know someone that may be, but we just haven’t taken the time to learn about them and their experiences.
I feel as though people don’t communicate with others in their lives anymore, particularly about things that matter in the world.
They don’t know enough about each other – the big stuff.
They don’t ever ask “how are you doing,” rather they sit and talk about themselves.
Unless you know every single aspect of every single person’s life, they may be affected or afflicted by one of the many causes out there on social media daily – and you could never have a clue, because you never stopped to listen. You won’t know unless you ask, or communicate, or just listen to the people around you.
The problem with social media campaigns is that it’s all about you, when you are often nothing more than a casual supporter. It isn’t quite the same as going into your community and listening to survivors of domestic abuse, or volunteering to sit with cancer patients during their treatments. Whenever I say these things to people, they say they only have so much time in the day. Then they promptly change the subject to what happened this week on The Bachelorette, or what they’ve been doing at work lately.
There’s more to life than selfies and TV and Facebook and workplace drama. Maybe – just maybe – all these social media campaigns wouldn’t be vacuous – so empty and meaningless – if there was more of a discussion and more action behind every post.