“It’s confirmed! I’m going to be a daddy” reads a friend’s Facebook status update. So I click the ‘Like’ button and type “Congrats!” into the comments.
Seconds later, I get this message sent to my Inbox:
Lol , you should not have liked or commented. Now you have to pick from one of these below and post it as your status. This is THE 2015 BREAST CANCER AWARENESS game. Don’t be a spoil sport, pick your poison from one of these and change your status, 1) Diarrhea again?! 2) Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket 3) How do you get rid of foot fungus 4) No toilet paper, goodbye socks. 5) I think I’m in love with someone, what should I do? 6) I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear 7) it’s confirmed, I’m going to be a Mommy/Daddy! 8)Just won £900 on a scratch card. 9) I’m getting married. Post with no explanations. So sorry, I fell for it too. Looking forward to your post. Shhh don’t ruin it!
It’s the second time I have been sent this. The first time, I just brushed it off as yet another mindless Facebook spam update (I’m sure these are built by Facebook staff to ensure the platform’s active user stats are kept high, to lure advertisers to spend more…)
The more I think about this, the more offensive it is. My sister is recovering from breast cancer. My mother died from cancer. How is this manipulative status hijacking “game” about raising awareness for breast cancer?
Do you know what it’s like when a family member is facing death through cancer?
Do you think a silly Facebook status update that forces people to trick each other under the guise of cancer awareness does anything constructive or palliative for the cancer sufferer or their family members suffering, watching them wither away and die?
I’m loath to believe you think this has anything to do with cancer awareness.
It does nothing for cancer: it does not raise funds, nor find a cure nor save our loved ones from death.
The only awareness here is a painful reminder that someone close to us is dying slowly and painfully. Thanks for that…
I said all this, in a rant in the comments, at this point not giving a damn if I ruined the “game” or made it awkward for anyone in the comment thread. You want cancer awareness? I’ll make you aware of our daily pain and loss. It’s not a game.
The person who posted the comment responded in a far more decent, human way than I expected after my tirade:
“Hi Dave. You are right. It doesn’t raise funds or find a cure for cancer, definitely. But, I think your response here has done what the posts meant to do: Create discussion and get people talking not only about cancer but also how we should raise awareness. I agree that these statuses are not the best method of raising awareness and the game does, in a way, turn cancer awareness into a trivial thing which is why responses like yours are so important. So, it may begin as a trivial game but someone will inevitably (hopefully) raise issues about the games and begin a conversation about the seriousness of cancer. Also, the messages that are then sent to people who respond to the statuses almost force them to acknowledge what the status is about and what it is trying to do. It would, however, help to include more information in the messages about cancer so that the awareness raising becomes central. I do understand the seriousness of cancer as friends and family members have died or been diagnosed with some form of cancer, but I do apologise for any offense or hurt caused.”
There are far better ways to raise awareness about cancer, than this pointless hijacking of people’s comments and likes.
Even when they’re not punching people in the gut with nonsense about cancer, they’re making people be less social and engaging on Facebook. Today, I reacted because it touched a very raw nerve – but because there are so many of these stupid “games” proliferating Facebook, I now don’t like or comment on anyone’s update if it looks vaguely odd, funny or a little ‘different’. I am sure I am not the only one. These idiotic games make us less engaging and more guarded on Facebook…and then what’s the point, really? Antisocial media won’t fly.
The ice bucket challenge was a great way to raise awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It did this in a fun way, getting people to pour ice water over a friend, and record their reactions. Awareness campaigns don’t have to be stark sentimental tear-jerkers.
The ice bucket challenge was important in another way: it forced action and donations as integral parts of the awareness campaign, resulting in millions of dollars being raised for research into a cure for ALS.
By contrast, this thoughtless Facebook status hijacking game has not raised one cent; has not educated about early detection or treatment. It has done nothing, except get people’s backs up.
It’s not clever. It’s not funny.
© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.