By: Ravneet Kaur
According to Urban Dictionary, “bandwagoning” is “when someone adopts a popular point of view for the primary purpose of recognition and/or acceptance by others”. Sounds familiar, right? The term is usually a reference to those not so cool kids that “jump on the bandwagon” for the latest fad. A prime example of “bandwagoning” was evident in the Bay Area when the San Francisco Giants were crowned World Champions. Numerous people who didn’t previously support the Giants rushed to join the growing number of fans.However, think back to early December when your Facebook newsfeed was invaded by profile pictures of cartoon characters to allegedly prevent child abuse and spread awareness. Nearly 90,000 Facebook users joined this bandwagon to “raise awareness” about child abuse, but how effective can one cartoon profile picture be?
The Facebook cartoon character campaign encouraged users to update their status to: “Change your FB picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is not to see a human face on FB until Monday (Dec 6th). Join the fight against child abuse and copy and paste to your status!” The popularity of the campaign quickly caught on and overnight Facebook transformed into a social network of childhood cartoons, featuring SpongeBob or Sagwa the Siamese cat as your Facebook friends. The Los Angeles Times reported that one out of twenty searches on Google related to cartoon images that weekend.
While the walk down memory lane of childhood cartoons was pleasant, the effectiveness of the campaign was questionable. It was nice to see that thousands of people cared to raise awareness about child abuse, but the campaigned failed to do anything more than just that. The viral phenomenon spread through the internet and stirred awareness on some level. After all, we are still talking about it two months later. The truth of the matter is that this campaign failed in the most part to inspire people to research child abuse and create a change. How many people researched numbers for child abuse? How many MSJ students rallied to write a letter to a local anti abuse campaign?
People tend to supports these bandwagon trends because it the easy way to show you care and requires minimal effort. The ideal goal of the campaign was to raise awareness about child abuse, but there is no evidence to support that Facebook users are now more informed about child abuse or more likely to speak against child abuse. Had the campaign asked everyone to change their profile and donate a dollar to support anti abuse organizations, the campaign may have been more effective and raised about $100,000.
Eventually another web trend will become viral and ask for your support. This time rather than just changing your profile picture to Johnny Bravo or updating your status to the suggestive location of your purse, make an effort to become more informed and lend your support to local organizations spreading awareness.