Gobo Fraggle ends child abuse, a nation rejoices

Hey, kids! Come over here and let Gobo tell you about the Whig Contract With America

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Delivering the news that you’re hoping, once again, for a win by the NFL franchise nearest your house.
  3. Identifying your neediest friends, who can be spotted by frequency of posts or liveliness of tax-oriented rants.
  4. ‪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.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

10 responses to “Gobo Fraggle ends child abuse, a nation rejoices

  • mindymilburn

    Well Jeff you know I adore you but come on! Yes we all despise child abuse, except for those pesky folks who actually abuse children. No we don’t need to “come out” against it but why the hate?

    I don’t think anyone is under the notion that changing their profile photo will fix the world but if it gets people talking, gets the news talking, gets even one person to donate money or inspires one individual to volunteer their time to help in any way, isn’t it worth it?

    I am not saying those things happen but they could and to that I say why not? If it has the possibility to get someone involved why not, that is one more person that will be helping a very worthy cause.


    • Maggie Kortchmar

      I agree with much of what you have here Jeff. But lets not forget a little thing called: fun. There are many more things to complain about on facebook other than a sentimental journey of changing profile pic to ones childhood memory.Who knows? maybe someone was inspired to volunteer or do something much more..one can be enough.


  • Jeff Vrabel

    Ah, Mindy, I can always count on you to bring sense to righteous-sounding rage. You make an excellent point, and I’m not just saying that because you’re from Indiana.


  • James Shipp

    Well said. I found the incorporation of beloved childhood characters into a campaign against something so fundamentally wrong confusing; seems like everyone making their status something about what a problem child abuse is with a link to donate to a related charity might’ve ACTUALLY been productive. And as I pointed out on Facebook, so many people I know are rather likely to make their profile pic a cartoon ANYWAY that it took me a good while to notice anything was up.

    IT’s about as impressive as becoming a vegan to take a stand on principle… seems like anyone who does that might eat a nice steak, then use the resultant ENERGY to go out and work with the homeless, or at the very least, work to expose pinkos at meetings of impoverished farmers.


  • Bob Q.

    It’s really sad to see the increase in Humor Impairment (HI) among so many people nowadays. Everyone seems to spend their time looking for things to be offended about, rather than looking for the silliness in things. Sad…

    I say, “Keep up the good work, Jeff!” Don’t let the HIs get you down!


  • Belle

    Another great article! I cannot even pick it apart because it just flowed together so well and I found it so humorous. Loved it.

    Mel Gibson…..heh.


  • Minka

    I would totally have to agree with you. Making light of a serious subject isn’t productive at all. Find a way to donate, find a way to volunteer… find a way to do anything worth while! A cartoon is a waste of time and space…and just plane old dumb. Come on people get a clue.
    While i’m ranting and raving i’m throwing this in here about people and their ideas of helping. Knocking the salvation army because they don’t believe in gay rights is wrong. Yes maybe this organization should be a little more open about their beliefs, or not.. it is their right they are a Christian organization. They are doing something. They are getting off their asses to go out in the freezing cold to collect money for people that have next to nothing. So save your facebook posts about not donating to them, because until you can find another organization that is actually out there doing the right thing,is big enough to help the people that need helping, AND has rights for EVERY SINGLE PERSON OUT THERE… then you can go donate to that organization..
    ok i’m done.
    – Minka


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