Lately, although growing numbers of us seem to need no excuse, and psychologists are warning that too many can be bad for your (mental) health, we’ve been encouraged to take ‘Selfies’ as part of ‘awareness’ campaigns. Although I attempted, but failed because of failing light, to contribute to NASA’s #GlobalSelfie Day last week, I felt very ambivalent about the #BreastCancerSelfie fundraiser a few weeks before that.
Apart from being the right gender, I am above the average age of ‘Selfie-takers’ (23 according to a recent survey*), which may help to explain why I’m not one in general. This considered, three things I did like about the Breast Cancer Selfie Without Make-up Campaign, which spread like spilt water over Facebook, were:
- It was clearly a great marketing ploy.
- It could be viewed as a fun challenge.
- It was successful, bringing in millions of extra pounds to Cancer Charities.
Actually, I just thought of a fourth ‘like’ – I wasn’t ‘nominated’ which means I avoided these elements I disliked about it:
- It appealed to the narcissistic tendencies of self-photographing for social media.
- It sometimes ‘smacked’ of flippancy in the context of cancer.
- Nominees seemed to be being coerced into donating more than genuinely choosing.
I’m a big believer in celebrating positive outcomes, even if they would not have been reached in a way preferred by me, providing the means is harmless and so can probably be justified by the end. In that respect I offer congratulations to the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign whose clever marketing paid off big-time, and which I hope will save many lives.
How generous we are as a society is apparently also an indicator of how happy we are. However, having a choice and a voice in deciding how and where we wish to contribute to improve the lives of others, even if we have extraordinary resources (e.g. JK Rowling, Bill Gates etc.) is important. For me, the main conditions would be considerations of empowerment rather than dependency, i.e. would my contribution assist individuals to solve the problems which caused them to need outside aid?
I like to feel that my decisions about giving to charities are mainly personal, based on priorities perceived by me; neither coercive or dictated by social media trends, nor having to feel obliged to disclose them, to justify, or to look good.
WINNERS AND LOSERS?
Whilst all charities rely on effective promotion to raise funds, my main reservations about campaigns like the ‘Breast Cancer Selfie’ is that charities will be forced to compete against each other to tap into the fads of Facebook and other social media networks, so that the goal of becoming ‘viral’ will take precedence over the source and nature of the need.
March 22nd was World Water Day, highlighting the global water and sanitation crisis; 768 million people around the world have no clean water to drink, fewer than 1 in 3 people have access to a toilet. It occurred shortly after the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, giving me an idea which I wished I’d thought of before. Water has lots of scope for lucrative Selfie-spreading, for example:
With a bottle in the gym, yoga, dance class etc. for the body-conscious
Running in the rain, for the fit and indomitable
On the toilet, for those who thrill to shock or shock to thrill
Shower scenes for the sultry or compulsively hygienically obsessed
Bathing baby/playful water scenes for proud parents/grandparents
Watering seeds etc. for the gardeners
Mopping for the houseproud
Washing one’s new car
Does it matter, after all, if the context of our donating seems ironic in the face of, and removed from the conditions of suffering of the cause being supported, as long as it’s a good one?
An alternative is just to give.