Symbolism

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen your female friends posting status updates consisting of just a color (or, in the case of a couple of my friends, the word “none” – and to be honest, I wasn’t surprised that they did once I was told what was going on).

The idea, apparently, was that women were telling other women to post the color of the bra they were currently wearing as a way to promote breast cancer awareness.

While the sentiment was good, the meme was flawed.  I can think of three reasons:

1. There was no explanation. How, exactly, would simply putting up a color as your Facebook status raise awareness of anything?  OK, I realize the goal was to get chatter going, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know why all these color-statuses were going up.  How much more aware are they today than they were Wednesday?

2. The meme got muddled. Because of #1, there are men and women posting random colors to get in on whatever this is, without having any idea of what they were posting, or why.  It was a Facebook meme, and they wanted to be with the crowd.  How much more aware are they today than they were Wednesday?

3. This doesn’t actually DO anything. In that respect, it’s a typical Internet feel-good meme.  It’s a way to feel like you’ve accomplished something without any personal cost other than the few seconds you took to type the status.  It’s really the same thing as one of those Internet petitions to save your favorite TV show.  It gives the appearance of action, without any actual action.  Understand that I am not criticizing anyone for posting their bra color.  I’m criticizing the idea behind the meme.

I’ll leave out the fact that the meme gives the impression that only women get breast cancer, or need to be aware of it.  The grim reality is that “awareness” doesn’t need to be raised.  Believe me, women are aware.  As to my gender… maybe not so much, but then again, how much are men aware of anything? :) 

So what can you do to turn the feel-good meme into constructive action?

First, remind the women in your life* to check themselves regularly… and to ask their doctor when a mammogram should be done.  The power to stop breast cancer is in your hands… literally.

Second, donate.  If everyone who posted a bra color in the last 24 hours gave a few bucks to a breast-cancer research/support organization, that would have made a hell of a lot more of a long-term impact.  You can donate $5 to Komen for the Cure by texting KOMEN to 90999 from your wireless phone… or you can donate more at www.komen.org.  There are other groups as well.  Find one you trust.

For the record… I sent an online donation to Komen for the Cure before I wrote this. 🙂

* And if you’re a guy who needs a bro… yeah, this means you, too.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

2 thoughts on “Symbolism”

  1. No offense, Rob, but I wasn’t told it was for breast cancer awareness. I was told it’s just a fun game for Facebook. Kind of a “let’s keep a secret from the guys” game. And it was particularly funny when I saw a guy post “Burnt Sienna.”

  2. I guess that would be point #2A – the meme got changed in the course of the Facebook-wide game of “Telephone”. 🙂

    I wonder what that “Burnt Sienna” guy is thinking now…

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