merchimerch: (Default)
Rant-Man said it very well, but I want to chime in:
http://rantmansnotebook.blogspot.com/2010/12/status-updates-and-slacktivism.html

The facebook memes that go by every so often do annoy me, not because I have anything about announcing bra color or displaying cartoon characters on facebook, but because of that false feeling of having accomplished something that results from participating in these mass activities.

Rant-Man said that doing so doesn't help out, but opening one's checkbook does. Well yes, but there are other things to be done from the comfort of one's computer that are also effective -- writing congress people about such issues, searching for relevant local organizations where one can help out in person, etc. I don't like the idea that the ONLY way to help child abuse, breast cancer, etc. is to open one's wallet.

And on that score, I see the facebook charity/awareness memes as just another extension of the green/pink/rainbow-washing phenomenon. Buying a pink vacuum will not help find a cure for breast cancer, especially since the paltry 1-5% of profits that are promised to the Susan G. Komen foundation often never even shows up. The same is true with purportedly environmentally friendly products. Has anyone noticed the trend in packaging to label itself "recyclable" in the same spot that other products state their recycled and/or post consumer waste percentage?

Also, it seems like the X-washing practices often obscure certain charitable organizations efforts that are truly effective. The Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz is an incredibly worthy cause, and a building owner downtown donated them an empty storefront for the holiday season. In their gift shop, you can buy candles, baking mixes, lavender sachets, etc. that came from their garden and directly benefits the project. It's the kind of charitable (and local) consumption that I'd like to see more of. http://www.homelessgardenproject.org/whatwedo/index.php

All of this preys on our desire to help out and our feelings of disconnectedness. But really, facebook and consumption are not going to contribute to solutions for these complex problems, and I worry that such memes provide a balm for people's charitable impulses that would otherwise be directed to more effective practices.

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merchimerch

October 2011

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