Sunday, November 04, 2007


Is it me, or is "Awareness" completely worthless? All this ribbon wearing, all the marching - can someone articulate what the point is? What does it accomplish? "We want to promote awareness." What does that even mean?

Let's say you care passionately about an "issue". And by "issue" I mean one of the issues that currently is represented by an awareness ribbon. Wikipedia has a list here. If you really want to make a difference for, for example, cancer sufferers, wouldn't you donate money? Volunteer at a hospital? Lobby for more public funding for research? Something along those lines? How exactly does wearing a ribbon, or marching to promote "awareness" do a damned thing? Who, specifically, in the audience of the awareness pageant wasn't already aware of cancer? And, if their awareness is temporarily heightened, what exactly does that achieve?

I am unconvinced that "awareness" does anything at all besides advertise the do-goodedness of the ribbon wearer and/or provide a outlet for frustration for people who want to make a difference but have no idea how. "But girls need to know the importance of doing regular checks for breast cancer." Agreed. But isn't communicating that message the rightful job of parents, teachers and doctors? Why exactly do you want that message communicated via parade? Isn't that less effective?

Someone coined the word "Slacktivism" to indicate someone who pretends to be an activist but doesn't actually do anything besides making the most superficial and lazy gestures. Ribbon wearing is cited as textbook example of slacktivism. Now, I actually don't agree 100% with this perspective. I can be an incredible slacker activist if I sit at home in my underwear, eat doritos, and occasionally click my mouse to donate money via paypal to cancer research. In my opinion, that's 100 times as valuable as a high energy, ribbon wearing dude who spends all his free time promoting "awareness". The awareness guy is doing diddily shit, accomplishing nothing except fueling his own superiority complex, while I'm greasing the wheels on actual research.

But of course, he cares so much that he sees it as his mission to educate others. By not wearing a ribbon, clearly, I must care less than he does about cancer.


Not Helpful

This sort of ties back to my old complaints about political protests on the streets. What do they ever accomplish? What CEO ever heard the commotion on the street below, walked over to his venetian blinds, pushed them open between his index and middle fingers, looked through the crack at the throng of determined protesters on the street and said "My God. What have I done?" Nooooooo one. And what has ribbon wearing and "awareness" ever accomplished, besides giving useless people a vague sense of accomplishment? Nothing!


Rowsdower said...

For some reason, when I post pictures, they stay up for a while and then disappear. I'm working on it...

crystalmae said...

I like you, you're interesting. - but this post makes me angry.

All I get from this post is that you believe that the only way that anyone can make a difference is by donating money.

Rowsdower said...

Are you one of the "ribbon people"?

crystalmae said...

I don't own a single ribbon for any cause.