Recently, users of the popular social media site Facebook began seeing their friends’ profile pictures replaced by cartoon characters. Why the worldwide change from photos to cartoons?
According to ABC News, the original message started in Greece as a game, with users asking friends to change their pictures to favorite cartoon characters from their childhood in an effort to remove all human faces from Facebook. However, by Nov. 19, a change in the message delivered began to include a charity awareness element asking people to change their pictures to a cartoon character to raise awareness of violence against children and was to be run until Dec. 7, 2010.
I have participated in this movement, changing my picture to my favorite childhood cartoon character Chilly Willy. I also posted my status message to reflect the child abuse awareness as the reason for my change. At first, I had about three or four of my friends “like” my status and repost it as theirs, while also changing their own pictures. As of Friday, Dec. 3, I was somewhat disappointed in the results. However, Saturday morning rolled around and I was surprised at what I saw.
I currently have about 110 friends on my Facebook page, and out of those I would say 50 percent had changed their statuses and profile pictures. In looking more, I could see from posts to other users that about the same percentage of my friends’ friends had changed as well. There were cartoon pictures everywhere I looked, even showing cartoons I had forgotten about over the years. It was actually quite fun and a wonderful look back at my childhood. Unfortunately, I think the main goal of this campaign may have been lost.
While many people were posting the status, the meaning of this Facebook game was to raise awareness of violence against children, I believe it was lost. I personally had many friends who posted how neat it was to see all these cartoon characters on Facebook, so they decided to do the same. They had NO idea of the reasoning behind it. Many did have friends who would chime in and post what the reason was, but their initial reasoning behind it was not for the awareness.
While I support the idea of playing these games on Facebook as an act of awareness, I believe there needs to be something more added to the game to really get the message across. Many people who have hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook friends do not always catch status updates. Like some of my friends, they only change their picture as an act to follow the crowd, not knowing the reasoning behind it. I think there needs to be something added to these images that shows the reason.
I have seen many people’s profile photos that have items like the breast cancer ribbon in the corner. Something like this included in the game, I believe, would be more successful to reaching the goal. With social media sites like Facebook becoming the main way people stay connected, it is a perfect avenue for raising awareness to any cause. However, those creating these ideas need to make sure their cause is not lost in the excitement of the game.
Sources: KI MAE HEUSSNER, Cartoon Characters as Facebook Profile Pictures, ABCNews