I have a confession to make: when Facebook tells me to change my avatar or update my status, it actually annoys me. I didn't type the colour of my bra, and I didn't update where I like to keep my purse. And, no, this week, I didn't update my avatar to show my favourite cartoon from childhood.
It's not that I think breast cancer is a joke, nor do I condone violence against children – and I can't even remember what the purse one was in aid of – but I just don't see the point.
A heated conversation on Twitter yesterday really got me thinking. There were those who argued that it was valuable: it raised awareness of the NSPCC and the work that they are doing. Then there were those that argued that it was completely useless and does nothing for suffering children.
I tend to agree – awareness without action is futile. If each person who changed their avatar also donated just £1.00, or supported the actual NSPCC campaign – a letter from Santa - then perhaps something useful could come from it.
On the other hand, perhaps now people are thinking about charities, and actual awareness has been raised and while we're going round doing our joyous thing this festive season, some of us might actually spare a thought – and a pound - to children who are living in poverty or abusive situations. Perhaps this campaign has raised awareness, and as a result every day people might think to actually donate £10.00 or so.
But on the flip side, the danger is that a vast amount of people will sit back and think, “Ok, I've changed my avatar, I've done my part. Let's move on.” While choosing not to support this, or any, charity is a personal choice, based on experience, circumstances and simply wanting to or not, doing essentially nothing and feeling good about it, well – that just feels a bit wrong to me.
I think for me the answer lies in how much awareness has been raised and what the outcome of that is. The NSPCC have stated that they weren't behind this campaign, but are grateful for the focus on their work. But if it's just a laugh and a bit of fun, then call it that.
What do you think? Good use of social media, good use if it pays off, or a harmless bit of useless fun?
Oh, and since you ask: black, on the table, and Top Cat.