Profile pictures don’t stop abuse

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By Katerina Marcotte – Assistant Section Editor

Yesterday, I changed my Facebook profile picture to one of my many fictional heroes: Sailor Moon.

My friends were all doing it (along with the “December Pokémon Profile Picture” event), and I knew it had something to do with awareness for child abuse. I had this great picture of Super Sailor Moon on my computer that I felt I had to share with my 308 friends.

Something occurred to me, though, as I clicked the “Choose File” button to change my default picture. What exactly is this doing for abused kids? We’re just recognizing that they are abused on a website which is not sponsoring any event or donating system that users could participate in.

It reminded me of “Keep a Child Alive,” the recent failed celebrity-geared project sponsored by AIDS Awareness and Prevention Organization. The project, known as “Buy Life,” wanted to inspire fans of certain Twitter-heavy celebrities by having the celebrities not tweet for the duration of World AIDS Day, or until they filled the site’s “money coffin” with $1 million of fan donations. It advertised with pictures of the “dead” celebrities, who claimed to have sacrificed their digital lives to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS.

Since World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the project has received $293,133 from fans, a mere 29 percent of its goal.

“Hey famous people, here’s an idea: Instead of using your limelight to shuck cash off common Internet folk, maybe you pull out your gilded checkbooks and donate the million dollars out of those fortunes happenstance so graciously awarded you,” the pop-culture blog The Daily What wrote in response to the project.

There is little else for me to do but agree.

What happened to actually taking action? Texting “ALICIA” to 90999 might donate $10 of my money (which I am happy to give) to “Keep a Child Alive,” but the people who have the extra money floating around will barely unclasp their Gucci clutches. The world has gotten so tech savvy with the ability to donate online and scanning T-shirts using your iWhatevers. Pretty soon, we’re going to have apps that will virtually distribute medicine to afflicted children.

Raising awareness by changing your Facebook profile picture is one step down from this bogusness.

“Something as simple as including a link in the statuses to organizations like UNICEF,
who work to protect children from abuse and exploitation, would make this [Internet fad] infinitely more helpful to its cause,” wrote Christine Friar, on the web-culture website Urlesque.com.

This passive approach of helping a cause must not become the norm. Nothing is going to change an abused child’s world ifyou change your Facebook profile picture to “The Angry Beavers.”

Do you agree? Vote online at unogateway.com!

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