Don’t Blame The Road Runner

Dec 05
2010

The Tazmanian Devil cannot stop child abuse. Neither can Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny, Bulwinkle, Calvin nor Hobbes. Not even Wonder Woman can stop child abuse.

Last week a well-intentioned trend made it’s way through Facebook. This was the suggestion:

Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is to not see a human face on FB til Monday, December 6th. Remember your childhood and join the fight against child abuse. Copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same.

So let me see if I understand this suggestion. I’ll paraphrase: Changing your FB profile picture to Hello Kitty is all you need to do to fight against child abuse. Once this whole website only has cartoons on it, we win! C’mon, everybody’s doing it! Tell your friends!

First of all, this post is the equivalent of a chain email that demands I perpetuate the misguided belief that luck will magically come to me if I annoy 37 of my closest friends with said chain email. That’s not what Facebook is for, people. Facebook is the online community where we meet at a safe emotional distance so I can beg you to read my blog and you can tell me your baby just farted rainbows. So, number one: don’t tell me what to do with my FB page.

Having said that, I can appreciate a whimsical FB game of picking & posting my favorite childhood cartoon character. And in fact, that is just what this thing originally began as, according to abcnews.go – a game. But somewhere along the line, someone bastardized this game into a cause with no organization or facts to ground it into a real opportunity for action.

And that is simply irresponsible. And lazy.

Putting Elmer Fudd on your FB profile won’t do anything at all to help children who are getting beaten and raped and emotionally scarred by those family members who should be loving them or those strangers who should be leaving them alone.

The harsh truth is that the kids living in those realities aren’t seeing your Beatle Bailey or Betty Boop. They’re shrinking from the next blow, the next burn, the next words that tell them they’re nothing. They’re shaking in fear as they’re told that they better not tell anybody what was just done to them. They’re wondering how they will ever survive and hoping someone might rescue them from the hell of their life.

To couple the goal of not seeing “a human face on FB until Monday December 6” (a phrase from the original game) with “join the fight against child abuse” (added by the mysterious Bastardizing Lazy Irresponsible Person) is a disturbing juxtaposition, is it not? Suggesting that eradicating real human faces from FB as a goal in the fight against child abuse is as ridiculous as Wile E. Coyote surviving all those explosions. Did this Bastardizing Lazy Irresponsible Person believe that if this goal was reached then all the child abusers would be caught under a cartoon steamroller and flattened to the width of a piece of paper?

It’s far more important that these kids see plenty of human faces; the safe kind. The kind that will help them. The kind that will remove them from their abusers grip and tell them they are worthy, they are valued, they are loved, they are safe.

So why did this BLIP add a cause to this game without any statistics or any suggestions about how to take real action against child abuse?

I mean, no one is for child abuse, right? We don’t need to convince anyone that they should reconsider their view on this subject, do we?

Was this meant to raise awareness in 2010 the same way red ribbons raised awareness about AIDS 19 years ago? Those red ribbons were originally meant to get people talking about an epidemic that even the government was refusing to acknowledge. Wearing a red ribbon meant you knew someone who had contracted or already died of AIDS and the numbers were staggering. The numbers are staggering for child abuse as well but nobody is denying the fact that child abuse exists; in fact, there are numerous established organizations out there dealing with this very subject.

Whether you believe we need to raise awareness or not, awareness is nothing without action. Instead of searching the Internet for the best picture of Mr. Magoo, we need to use that technology to move forward. We need to share information about how to help and treat abused children; how to recognize the signs of abuse; to rehabilitate abusers, if possible; to teach and learn and provide resources for each other so we can all protect the children who cannot protect themselves.

Maybe it was just about power for the BLIP; he or she recognized social media for the potential social virus it can be and wanted to be responsible for something that ultimately means nothing.

I can’t get inside the head of this BLIP; but I can pose a question to FBers everywhere: why did you change your profile picture?

Was it the game portion of the post that appealed to you? I get that. Cartoon nostalgia is a fun way to break up the day. Participating in a game that’s demanding everyone do the same thing doesn’t appeal to me, but as I said, I don’t like to be told what to do. I get that some folks love this idea. It’s kind of like seeing if you can all chug your beers and slam down your empties at the same time.

Was it the “join the fight against child abuse” that got to you? Did you worry that if you didn’t slap The Cat In The Hat up on your profile people would think you supported child abuse? Did you really want to do something for the cause but without any further instructions were left to simply let Piglet speak for you?

Do you know of a child that was abused and just wanted to show your support? Did you feel helpless in the face of that child’s suffering and need something – anything – to do? I get that too. That’s why there were so many American flags sticking out of car windows after 9/11; those of us who felt utterly helpless and traumatized had to grab a hold of anything that might express how we at least wished had the power to change what happened.

However, don’t blame the Road Runner if child abuse hasn’t been eliminated by the time you read this. The BLIP has made it perfectly acceptable to not take any real action against a very important cause. He or she has made it very easy to feel as if you’re doing something to help children when you’re not doing anything but entertaining your own childhood nostalgia.

So while the BLIP is playing with G.I. Joe and Malibu Barbie, the rest of you might consider this:

Join the fight against child abuse by sending money to the non-profit organization, Childhelp, or find a local organization to volunteer at by searching through Idealist or become a foster parent or a pediatrician or a child psychologist or a lawyer…or maybe just send some cash again when you can.

I understand some of those are big commitments. But some of them aren’t. Pick what works for you. I give two days of my time every month as a mentor through Youth Mentoring Connection. A friend of mine has fostered several children. But if all you can do right now is send $10 to an established organization, that’s a helluva lot more than Superman could ever do.

Meanwhile, I’m sure the BLIP will keep Goofy as their avatar until someone tells them to change it to a superfood so we can all cure cancer through Facebook.

***

For more information on child abuse or places to donate time or money, please visit the below websites.

Child Abuse Prevention Association

International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Childhelp

Child Welfare

American Humane Association

Idealist.org

9 Responses to “Don’t Blame The Road Runner”

  1. Donaco! says:

    The whole idea was idiotic stupidity.

  2. LawrenceMeyers says:

    Great post, Robin.

  3. Carmen says:

    Great post. Just tweeted… (as possibly ironic as that is, given the subject matter of your post…)

  4. Jennifer says:

    I thought the whole thing was pretty silly too, but then — I'm old.

  5. Jon says:

    I like Facebook a lot. I like cartoons a lot. I agree with Robin that the campaign was pathetic, and failed to take the really important kinds of steps Robin advocates. Creative people make memorable, lasting statements like Suzanne Vega in "Luka" and Lou Reed in "Dirty Boulevard". The Facebook campaign also failed miserably in terms of creativity and durability of the statement.

    Great blog, Robin!

  6. EHB says:

    Once again Robin nails it. Lets all feel better about ourselves because we did something meaningless and pointless like "pray" a problem will get better not only fails to solve the problem in all likelihood it exacerbates it. Lets all pray the potholes behind the businesses on 3rd Street magically fill up. Instead of calling the city, writing to the appropriate city officials, or even getting out there with some asphalt of our own and just getting it done…let us pray. More rain, deeper holes, more car accidents, more damaged transmissions, less action. My lack of respect for organized religion includes but is not limited to the fact that the Ten Commandments fail to include, "don't fuck your children" and "don't hurt your children" but instead worry us about adultery, and the all important glorification of the monotheistic view of God. Any God that is more preoccupied with its own glorification (thou shall have no other gods before me) than it is with protecting the most vulnerable members of a society fails to inspire my devotion. But, hey — maybe if we all pray to the one true God child abuse will magically cease. This strikes me as even more damaging a philosophy than FB cartoon nonsense. Instead, as Robin suggests…if you want to participate in the eradication of child abuse…do something. In closing, I actually like prayer. I love to say, "thank you" when I am overwhelmed by luck and good fortune. I like to clear my head and "pray" for understanding when I find myself indulging in hateful thoughts about the man who pushed me out of the way at the bakery store. It helps me calm down. But when it comes to potholes and child abuse I am offended by those who sit by an "pray" while our children's hearts, bodies and spirits are destroyed. I fail to see any difference between those idol prayers and posting Yosemite Sam on FB
    But, thats just me.
    E

  7. Jen says:

    I think it was just to bring awareness to the cause.
    I know it made me think about it, especially when I was with my kids..
    Sad when people get so upset and call people stupid for a simple gesture to bring awareness to such a horrible subject.

  8. Robin Dale Meyers says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jen. I\’m not opposed to raising awareness; I\’m opposed to posting on FB to raise awareness without any further information offered up on how to take action. I believe that \”awareness\” without action is meaningless. It\’s what you do with that awareness that counts, I think. I\’m sure you did think about it when you were with your kids. I\’m sure you did feel horrible for the abused children in this world. And that makes you a very sensitive, caring human being, which is a great thing. But I wanted to encourage folks to take the next step – to then do something that might help those kids.

    However, I agree with your second point. There\’s no need to call someone stupid in a debate. In the world of intelligent discourse, name-calling meaningless. But in the online world of comments and posts and sharing, it\’s rampant. See my post: Temporary Asshole.

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