Well, I opened a can of worms yesterday, didn't I?
I really want to thank everyone who thoughtfully contributed to the discussion. To sum things up:
-the meme works for some. It DID actually raise their awareness. People do believe that it will at least start a conversation, make people notice, and that's a first step. As Andrea pointed out, it's like talking to someone at a dinner party and mentioning that the Food Bank needs donations of diapers and formula. If the person acts on it, great. But at least you passed on the information.
You guys convinced me. To some degree, it really did get people talking and perhaps nudged some people to take action. So that's good!
-some people could care less. Let the Facebook users have their fun!
-some just liked cartoons, and it had nothing to do with child abuse for them.
Which really just proved my point about the whole uselessness of it.
-others pointed out that pedophiles started the whole thing (this is unverified), and some more said that now there's a cartoon characters to bring cancer awareness thing happening.
Um...ya. Flavor of the week causes make me stabby. Not going to touch that one because dude, telling the girl who lost a friend to lung cancer only a few weeks ago? Something like that would make my head explode.
-some thought I was being judgmental, hated the tone, and said I was assuming that people who changed their avatars did nothing. Oh, and that I am sloppy because of a typo.
Which actually made me laugh because that comment HAD A TYPO.
-Some agreed, some did not, some thought the entire thing was stupid.
There was drama. Lots and LOTS of drama. I had to turn off anonymous comments for the first time in the 4 1/2 years I've been blogging, a friend and I had it out, and even readers who posted links to the piece on their Facebook caught some heat.
This blog has never seen so much drama. It was a bit frightening.
The sad thing is that the drama completely distracted me from doing what I had planned to do, which was write a post detailing what action you can take if you want to make a difference. This list will be shorter than I had first envisioned, but it's a start. If you think of places to donate or have ideas, I hope that every single one of you who commented in the last post will generate a pile of links to charities that people can check out, or ideas for how to make a difference in your communities. You commented to tell me I was wrong, to tell me your opinions, now tell me how to make a difference.
Are you in? Here's what I've thought of so far: (scroll right down to the bottom for a great video. Warning: have tissue handy)
Food Banks Canada (find one in your area, local news, donate online, learn about phones for food, hunger awareness day, plant a row/grow a row, or what food is needed the most)
BC Children's Hospital Foundation (raising money for a new facility. These guys are AMAZING. I know first hand. The kid's waiting rooms at BC Children's could also use new toys, books, etc for kids who are staying at the hospital. )
Salvation Army (donate online, become a volunteer, donate $5 by text.)
Heeling Hunger (swap some shoes, donate $9, and money goes to the Food Bank! I believe it's Canadian only)
Covenant House, Vancouver (donate online, or sign up to volunteer)
Sunshine Coast Community Services (or in your area, check out your own community services.
Vancouver's Empty Stocking Fund ( donate online, find out how you can help)
Your local schools (go and ask-you can read to kids, help with hot lunches, work in the library, breakfast programs, donate your kid's outgrown winter clothing, and more)
Big Brothers/Big Sisters (donate online, find out about fundraising days or what products you can buy that benefit Big Brothers/Sisters, or become a big brother/sister)
Boys and Girls Club (donate online, and learn more about the Boys and Girls Club!)
Habitat for Humanity (donate online, find out how you can volunteer)
Canadian Mental Health Association (donate online, and learn more about mental illness)
Unicef (donate online, volunteer, and more)
Challenge Day (help fund a Challenge Day for a school. I've been to one. They are life changing!)
Breakfast for Learning (donate online, help provide breakfast to needy children)
even more personal, every bit as good:
-shovel an elderly neighbor's walkway
-bring a new mom a home made meal
-smile and thank your cashier at the grocery store
-take some children's books up to the kid's ward at the hospital
-donate blankets, socks, pjs, toiletries to a local transition house
-give diapers and baby items to the food bank
-offer to watch your neighbor's children
-give that frazzled mom in your kid's class a warm smile
-look a disabled child in the eyes and talk to them (and tell their mother how beautiful they are, and MEAN IT)
-volunteer in your kid's classroom
I could go on and on. My point is, it can be as small as stuffing a $5 bill into a Salvation Army kettle. You can go all the way. You could just do nothing.
Whatever you choose to do, make it count. Own it.
Don't let it be just a meme on Facebook.