GateHouse — Let me preface this by saying that despite what you might suspect in about four minutes, I oppose child abuse. Very much so, actually.
But because I’m also against this weird new Facebook-born style of quasi-activism-that’s-actually-just-neediness-and-nostalgia, I’m also declaring my opposition to witty image-oriented viral movements as well. You know, not as much, but still.
Still, having now been on Facebook through four solid years and one talky movie, I’m convinced it’s most effective at the following:
- Compelling people to smilingly hand over a profusion of personal data, ensuring that everyone from space satellites to John Boehner to the 12 clones of Mark Zuckerberg that have been hatched to date (LOOK IT UP) can accumulate Assange-loads of information about your shopping, income and drinking habits, mostly drinking. True fact, just this afternoon Facebook encouraged me to install a New Profile feature, one designed to paint a more complete picture of who I am, rank my friends like NCAA tournament seeds and tell you my work and travel habits, so you know exactly when to steal my TV.
- Delivering the news that you’re hoping, once again, for a win by the NFL franchise nearest your house.
- Identifying your neediest friends, who can be spotted by frequency of posts or liveliness of tax-oriented rants.
- Making blatant, desperate calls for help through status updates, so that friends may be obliged to comment supportively. For this reason, the last time a friend did this, my comment read, “That sucks, I bet it’s infected, and you probably deserved it.” People really like my friendship.
All of this is why I am on Facebook under my alias of Felipe M. Peligroso, the profile picture of whom is essentially me with a handlebar mustache and the physique of Antonio Banderas, because it’s not like I’m gonna invent a fictitious alter ego and make it look like Beck, you know what I’m saying? For the purposes of Felipe I am a 1947 graduate of Boone Grove High School in northwest Indiana, I Like only Jim Croce and the New Kids on the Block and my Political Views are “militant Whig.” Sure, that means I get a lot of Whig spam-propaganda, but I can filter that and some of it frankly makes real sense.
What Facebook is not good at is fixing child abuse. It’s terrible at it, actually. It could be better at it, if it, say, installed an unobtrusive Donate button, possibly in that top block of real estate where it usually puts something important like CLICK HERE FOR THE FRIEND FINDER AND ALSO HOW FREQUENTLY WOULD YOU SAY YOU PURCHASE PLANE TICKETS WITH YOUR VISA CARD WHAT? WE’RE JUST ASKING.
Not that Facebook doesn’t try, sort of. This week, the site was visited by one of an occasional series of grassroots movements, in which users post a status or change their picture to create awareness of something that everyone opposes anyway, such as disease or poverty or Mel Gibson. Some time ago women — as part of a quote-fingers secret initiative that was a groovy mystery to anyone without the Internet — posted their bra colors to raise awareness of breast cancer. This year it was about where they keep purses — “I like it on the counter,” etc. — finally bridging that long-fought-for gap between cancer activism and sex jokes with your relatives in them.
This week, it’s Change Your Profile Photo To A Cartoon For Child Abuse, which is probably the most logical sentence you’ll read all week. I can only imagine, were I an abused child, the overwhelming relief I would feel knowing that my college roommate replaced his picture with that of the alcoholic talking dog from “Family Guy,” and then failed to donate money or time or something. (Note that I am using a Random Fictitious Example, as every last one of my college roommates is more thoughtful than I am, except that guy Rob who lived with us for one summer, broke the garbage disposal and still owes us electric-bill money.)
Now again, just to make this obnoxiously clear, I’m against the atrocities of child abuse. So are you. So is everyone. I’m against it so much I’m not sure I need to actually come out against it; it’s like opposing hunger, or war, or Mel Gibson. But it also can’t be meaningfully combatted via something as brain-enmushingly trivial as clever photo adjustment on a website most often employed for broadcasting baking plans and party pictures. So let me take this opportunity to launch a new initiative I have just made up, one called Change Your Profile Picture To A Fraggle In Support Of Putting Off Comfortable Attention-Getting And Blank Nostalgia And Going Out To Volunteer Instead. I’ll take Gobo.
Note: Sizable portions of this piece were either the ideas of, or written entirely by, occasionally obscene parenting-blogger/world’s newest Jimmy Buffett fan Robyn Passante and always-obscene brother/ex-roommate from 1978-1993 David Vrabel.