Ribbon chic, Facebook Profile Pics, and actually DOING something.

Hello Dear Friends,

So those of you who, like myself, have been sucked into the time vortex that is FaceBook may have noticed the effort abroad to change your profile pic to a favored childhood cartoon character as some sort of statement against child abuse.

I have very mixed feelings about these sort of things.  Not that I particularly support child abuse, mind you.  As Opus said when he called in to Phil Donahue in support of Penguin Lust, only to find out that the days topic was Nun Beating,

“Good Lord man I can’t support that!”

Anyhow, on the one hand it is good that these efforts try and raise awareness.  Yet only a few of the actual status updates mentioned WHY we were supposed to be changing our profile pics to a favorite cartoon character from our childhoods.  Strange how the childhood game of “telephone” was training for 21st Century social networking?

Then too I think that sometime these little symbolic gestures dilute energy from the causes they are meant to highlight and encourage support and effort towards.

Most of the campaigns like this are designed specifically to raise awareness and try to encourage people to do more… yet there are plenty of folks out there who are simply going to change their profile pic and feel good and self congratulatory and then move on with their week and forget.  I mean, hell folks, if half the people who buy a pink ribbon or red ribbon item to show support or donate 15 cents on the dollar to the cause were to write their congress person and donate directly and marched in a protest on the issues for a couple of years we might very well have a cure for either Breast Cancer or Aids by now!

All of which may seem a strange opinion for a Magickal Practitioner… but there is a different between Magickal Practice and magical thinking.   The invocation of symbolic language should be intentional and moving and powerful.  When an act is done to affect change, to have a genuine effect in the world, whether it is an act of protest or a religious rite or in the spiritual practices of individuals and groups it must be done with knowledge, it must be done with intent, it must be done with the willingness to act and speak in accord, and it must be done with Will.

Otherwise it is just a simple and quickly forgotten fashion choice or fad.

My Pagan friend, and Friend, Cat would be quick to ask me here why I think that action and effort and Will are not an accompaniment to the changing of the profile pics; she is pretty fabulously talented at asking the key questions and providing some of us with discernment….

Some of this disgruntlement comes from the previously mentioned game-of-“telephone” aspect of Facebook, I have seen dozens of reminders to change your profile pic to a cartoon character that in no way mention the idea that this relates to speaking up against child abuse.

Some comes from the fact of my own history.  I have bought the red frosted  cookie-where-an-unspecified-tiny-amount-of-the-cost-actually-goes-to-HIV/AIDS-research and felt all rosy and warm (although that may have also been the onset of Diabetes or the wildly unorganic and probably carcinogenic dyes that make it red) and slacked with the giving money or marching or speaking out in the past.   Although some of THAT is also the overall lack of money in my life, but my fingers and feet are not broken so I could have still written my Congressperson and marched and protested and stuff… but I didn’t.

I think my big objection, is a lot of these little symbolic acts can, if we are not conscious in our efforts, buy into the mantra’s of the overculture….

“That you have done your part by doing the simple profile pic change or buying the trinket and you don’t need to worry your self about it beyond that, your busy, there’s a lot going on and how can one person really make that much difference?”

~ the insidious sort of bs that our culture tells us all the damn time….

I feel like all to often we are not encouraging ourselves and one another to do MORE than the symbolic little act.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go off and try to figure out what that MORE is exactly…



2 thoughts on “Ribbon chic, Facebook Profile Pics, and actually DOING something.

  1. I’ve found that this annoys me a lot, as well. Mostly because I see its potential. A magically-charged “ribbon campaign”, sub-processed by millions of Facebook users, would boost the profits of a subsequent collection campaign through the sheer amount of mental sub-processing alone (same way TV advertising works, even if the target audience doesn’t remember the commercial). But that second push is never there, and the organizers (if there are any at all) wonder why their attempts aren’t having any effect. Pity.

    1. Pax

      Good Point Pallas!
      It’d be nice to see more suggestions or was to get involved that forced people to get out from behind the keyboard once in a while too.

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