Ribbon Fatigue?

Apparently, “World Autism Day” happened this year on Saturday, April 2. People were asked to light their houses blue (not sure how… go buy special outdoor lights and point them at the house, maybe? Change all of the bulbs in your house to blue that day?)  I thought that was a bit farfetched, so I went and visited the site.  They suggest things like, purchasing a t-shirt, becoming a fan on their Facebook page, and hosting or attending an event in your area. I’m not sure where the “light your house blue” thing came in, unless it’s from a letter that a 13-year old autistic boy wrote to President Obama, asking HIM to light the White House blue for the day.

Anyway, this got me thinking… a couple months ago, there was a fuss over everybody putting their favorite cartoon character’s image as their “Profile Picture” on Facebook, in support of Child Abuse Awareness. How it got started, I don’t know, but for a weekend or more, not only did everybody change their picture to Bugs Bunny, Rainbow Brite and He-Man, but the battle raged over the effectiveness or futility of the actions. “What good is changing your FB Profile Picture going to do? It’s not going to get a child out of the hands of an abusive parent!” the critics cried.  The participants replied with, “But it makes people more aware of the problem, and maybe something good will come of it!”  “Baaaah, you suck!!” screamed Team Against.  “You suck back!!” screamed Team For. And it degenerated from there. It would have been hilarious, if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

But it turns out, that little FB stunt was effective. Child Abuse Relief Charities around the United States and England experienced a bump in donations because of it.

Despite the good it does, and despite the fact that I, too, participated in the “change your Profile Picture” stunt, I have to admit, I am really “caused-out”. Every time I turn around, I find myself having a ribbon shoved in my face. Red for Aids… or maybe it’s Red for Women’s Heart Health. When I was in high school, it was actually Red for MADD… they started the whole “ribbon craze” back in the ’80’s with a campaign against drunk driving.

So it brings me to my point… how effective, really, is the whole “awareness campaign” thing?  Are others, like me, becoming so exhausted by the rainbow of ribbons being thrust at them on a daily basis? Or do the Days and Ribbons and FB Crusades really work? It seems, in the short-run, anyway, that the Awareness Days and FB Campaigns have some small influence on fund raising. But  I wonder, do those that participate do it because it’s ‘the thing’ or because they believe in the cause? And do they stick with it, once The Day is over?  What about you? Have one of those days or crusades caused you to become involved in a charity that you otherwise would not have?

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9 Responses to Ribbon Fatigue?

  1. Joy says:

    Well, it really all depends on the mood I’m in when I see that stuff on Facebook. I’m really not one to repost too many things. I do think it’s fun to change profile pics and I joined in on the child abuse one. It was fun having Top Cat as my profile pic and of course it brings attention to a subject. How could it not? But, all the cancer ones and “if you love your son,” I don’t do those. I’m not sure. It seems kind of immature for me to announce how much I love my sons. You know??? Some of them are fun if you’re young but kinda lame at 53. I’ve done some of the funny ones but like I say, if I’m in a playful mood, I’ll repost some things if they strike me as funny or touching.

    I do have to agree with you about all the ribbons and different colors and all the *sorry*, but all the junk that comes!! How can you possibly donate to all of them and how can you even keep track of what’s what? I stopped donating to the Mayo Clinic because you donate once and you get weekly flyers and catalogs that cost more to make and send than I donated. I feel that’s a waste of money.

    Pink is breast cancer. The red used to be MADD. The yellow livestrong bracelets were for Lance Armstrong’s cancer charity but then everyone starts hopping on that same idea bandwagon and you have ribbons and bracelets in every color under the sun and I think then they lose some of the impact of what they stand for. When you see something like this and don’t know what it stands for, what good is it? It’s always the uniqueness of it and the difference it makes as to if it stands alone and can really stand for something that everyone knows just by seeing it. If I see someone wearing a light green ribbon, what does that do for me? It won’t make me donate to the charity because I won’t know what it is but when you see the pink one, one of the first ones, you just know.

    I think they’re overdone.

  2. Sue says:

    I’m just tired of every organization asking for money. I know that is what they depend on, but like Joy said, you donate once and they hound you forever! I donated to the ACS and the calls are nonstop. I can’t keep all the colors straight anymore either so how effective can that be?

  3. SKL says:

    Good question. Charity is a very individual thing. Not something you should be guilted into or seduced to do. Everyone should have their own unique priorities since we are all different. Just because I do not donate to most causes does not mean I do not care about the underlying issue. And just because someone wears a symbol does not mean they “care” more than someone else.

    But how does one make an informed choice without the charities doing some level of marketing? I agree the ribbon fad is getting old, but it was effective for quite a while. It has just become generic with so many.

    I wonder what the next awareness fad will be.

    But at the same time, I wonder what is a better way to get young people willingly involved in charity. I think it’s important but it has to be done right, or it isn’t charity. Charity is love and it loses much of its effect when we forget that.

    As for lighting the house blue – didn’t I just hear that I was supposed to turn OFF my lights for the environmental cause? I am not a fan of these group-think ideas.

    It’s not that I don’t care about autism. But seeing a blue light tells me nothing about what they want donations for. Autism tends to be controversial – is it overdiagnosed, are we trying to make everyone fit a narrow “normal,” is Jenny McCarthy nuts, etc. So I am not about to jump on any banswagon without knowing a lot more.

  4. mssc54 says:

    Here is what I just don’t get.

    How does putting a magnetic on your vehicle or whatever the current rage is help support anything.

    Like the Support Our Troops you see on vehicles. How exactly is that supporting?

    • SKL says:

      I think what the “Support Our Troops” magnets do is remind people that not everyone disrespects our military and/or what Bush had them doing (I’m sure you recall all the negativity).

  5. Joy says:

    I’d like to say that I have nothing against these organizations who are trying to raise money in these trying times but I think the ribbons are all used up and people need to think of something else to be their mascot.

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