Facebook Fads Fail



Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

Everyone talks about how revolutionary Facebook is. “Experts” discuss the endless feats (i.e. finding a long lost brother, starting a civil war) that social media can help accomplish. So naturally, American teens have begun embracing these possibilities. Our methods however have proved superficial, creating a disturbing trend called slacktivism, in which entire movements and causes are simplified and condensed into a single Facebook post.

Most people are familiar with the fleeting Facebook fads that come up every once in a while. About three years ago, people were encouraged to change their profile pictures to cartoon characters in a campaign to protest child abuse. While this may have slightly improved awareness of the cause, the protest was virtually useless because it ended there. No problem can simply be stopped because people are aware. While that is a first step, Facebookers seem to believe that their work is done after simply sharing a video or liking a picture. It is an often overlooked or simply ignored fact by some teens that reaching 1 million likes on a photo does not actually save a dying baby.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this trend is Kony 2012. For a few weeks last March, everyone was talking about the video and sharing its inspiring cause to find and stop child-soldier maker Joseph Kony in Uganda. He became a household name and within a few months, Obama sent 100 troops to help with the hunt. Yet, most people probably are not aware that the hunt for Kony was suspended indefinitely just a few weeks ago following months of futile searching.

Most recently the trend has continued with red equal signs taking over profile pictures across Facebook in support of marriage equality. But regardless of anyone’s stance on the issue, the fact remains the same. No one in Congress or the Supreme Court is suddenly going to pass a bill or declare one unconstitutional simply because profile pictures are changed.

The use of Facebook to actively and personally connect with friends and family is a better approach to seeking real change. Turning to social media to raise donations actually benefits the cause, rather than just nominally supporting it and has proved successful time and time again.

Even more direct would be specifically promoting contact to legislators and politicians. Actively engaging voters or any citizen (teens included!) to voice concerns to politicians is an effective way to ensure policies are actually pursued and change is actually achieved.

Though the good intentions of slacktivists are apparent, their actions should not stop at just a “Like.” Causing true change in the real world requires more than just encouraging some in the virtual one.