The Facebook booby trap

Nathan Campbell —  January 12, 2010

Am I the only person (not just male surely) who is sick of the Facebook phenomena of females posting the colour of their underwear as their Facebook status.

Yes, for the slow people, that is why you have been seeing colours as statuses.

I hate breast cancer. Everybody does. Nobody is unaware of it. And seriously. Posting a colour to raise awareness does nothing for the cause.

Has anybody been compelled to make a donation to breast cancer research as a result of the colour “blue” or “chartreuse” (whatever that is).

I know many of you reading this have taken part in the exercise. And I understand your motivation. But either you’re responding to a friend telling you what is going on – or the originally circulated spam that read:

Some fun is going on….just write the colour of your bra in your status..just the colour, nothing else, and send this on to ONLY girls no men… it will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the men will wonder why all the girls have a color in their status…thanks ladies!

Fun? Posting colours and keeping secrets is fun? No. It’s childish.

Here’s a more scathing analysis from Jezebel

But what good has it really done for breast cancer awareness? Does anyone on Facebook really not know about breast cancer to the point where someone posting “purple lace!” and eight dudes responding, “Ooh, hot, lol” is really doing to anything to really help the cause in any possible way? If anything, the constant sexualization of and cutesy-poo approach to breast cancer pushes people to take it less seriously. As Tracy Clark-Flory of Broadsheet notes: “This bra color movement seems a similarly desperate attempt to get guys to simply give a crap about breast cancer by making it sexy and flirtatious, which I find not only embarrassing to women but insulting to men.”

And, you know, spreading awareness of an issue that statistically is much more predominant in women by keeping the men out of it… that’s a good idea.

Bollocks.

You don’t see guys running boxers or briefs social networking campaigns to raise awareness for prostate cancer. No. We grow moustaches and collect money.

It seems equally stupid. But there’s a difference. Movember raised awareness and almost $20 million (in Australia – and about the same world wide) for the cause.

A public awareness campaign with no call to action is just stupid. Having a strong call to action is the key to any marketing or public relations campaign. A call to action says: “if you care about this, do this”. Marketing that says “care about this” serves no purpose but to get people to care about an issue they probably already care about. A public awareness campaign where the call to action is “keep this a secret from the guys” is even dumber.

This “Bra Colour” Facebook campaign is stupid, juvenile, and almost completely pointless. Unless all the outcry about how pointless it is leads to some people actually donating.

And I’m proud to be a part of that.

If you really want to make a difference regarding Breast Cancer then do this:

Donate online

Help the National Breast Cancer Foundation to fund research into the prevention, treatment and cure of breast cancer. (If you would like to set up an ongoing donation, please call 02 9299 4090.)

Click here to donate online

Nathan Campbell

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Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His Daughter. Coffee. And the Internet. He is currently a student at the Queensland Theological College and a mercenary PR Consultant.

12 responses to The Facebook booby trap

  1. Yes, though one could argue that Movember does not exactly include women any more than facebook whatever it is includes men.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t take facebook “campaigns” of any sort very seriously (but at least this one didn’t come with some sort of emotional blackmail, which I find detestable), and I don’t know that it’s a fair comparison to put this side by side with Movember. There are countless campaigns that ARE actually raising money for breast cancer outside of facebook.

  2. "There are countless campaigns that ARE actually raising money for breast cancer outside of facebook. "

    Agreed.

    And there are plenty on Facebook that are better than this stupidity.

    Why do people jump on the bandwagon of something like this just because it seems a good cause?

    The same argument could be made (and is made in the form of emotional blackmail) for many of the campaigns you detest.

    Is the lack of emotional blackmail reason enough to take part?

    • Sorry, only just got back here (thought I would get sent followups and think I only got one from Jeff? – and so I thought this post had gone over like a lead balloon :)…), but the emotional blackmail thing was just an aside – no, it wasn't reason enough to take part. 'Twas a mindless decision really because my cousin sent me the email and so I did it because she sent it to me. See, never underestimate the power of not-upsetting-your-friends that we women have to live with!
      My recent post Poetry – Safe S*x

      • Hi Ali,

        I'm sure there's a good reason to participate in any of these sorts of campaigns once they start. And the not upsetting friends would be a good reason.

        But they should just never start. They are a really bad way to "raise awareness"… Except that now we're all talking about it (as are other people around the Internet). So maybe it worked.
        My recent post Eutychus in the Brick Testament

        • Sure. I do agree. I think mostly this one has just got women all making comparisons about their, um, well let's just not keep mentioning the word …

          You have my word of honour that I will never start one.
          My recent post Poetry – Safe S*x

    • And the pimply teenager in his gloomy bedroom ought to know that what a girl happens to be wearing one moment is not necessarily what she prefers – there are other underwear considerations. I'm just saying …
      My recent post Poetry – Safe S*x

  3. Did anyone post “skin toned bloomers” as their colour? I’m sure they are disproportionally few.

  4. It all makes sense now…my sister-in-laws status was "black"…I just thought she was in a bad mood.

  5. While I agree in principle that a so called 'call to action' requiring no call to action whatsoever is utterly futile, don't forget that raising awareness of breast cancer per se (without necessarily donating money to research) is actually a moderately effective public health measure. By raising awareness, you encourage women to participate in breast self-examination (BSE), (or pap smears, mammograms, depending on the thing you're trying to make everyone 'aware' about) which is, theoretically, a good way of increasing the numbers of women screened, thus increasing the likelihood of picking the cancer up at an earlier stage. Granted, there are problems with this – some studies suggest no actual reduction in cancer death rates with BSE and others suggest that raising awareness simply increases general anxieties and fear in the community. But certain campaigns – such as the Pap smear program, which has greatly reduced morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer – have proven to be quite valuable from simply an awareness standpoint.

    • Phoebe,

      Thanks for your medically informed comments… I don't see how this "tell us what colour your bra is" campaign will lead to any increase in check ups anyway.

      It's raising awareness for raising awareness sake. I don't know how many people don't know about breast cancer. But this wasn't even – check your breasts for lumps and then post your bra colour. It was "post your bra colour" to get people talking. All it did was to get people talking about bra colour.

      I imagine a pimply teenage in a darkened bedroom somewhere rubbing his hands together with glee because thanks to his little ruse he now knows exactly what bra colour all the girls he's stalking prefer.

  6. Why did every comment I left here have that particular recent post permanently attached to the bottom of it? I just looked at my stats thingy and thought ‘why is Nathan sending all these people over here to read that poem?’ Curious.

  7. Nathan Campbell October 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Hey Ali,

    I think it was the last post you wrote before commenting here (originally).

    I had a plugin that added it as a link to comments (which was part of IntenseDebate – the commenting platform I’ve since disabled).