Monday, September 5, 2011

Why your Facebook status about breast cancer awareness annoys me...

If you have Facebook, you've probably seen a status or two or twenty that looks like this; "I'm 6 weeks and craving Chocolate Cake."

The first one I saw was posted by my cousin's fiancee. I freaked out a little and asked my little sister if Bride To Be was pregnant or what the hell was going on. She told me no and said it was one of those stupid Facebook things, like when they posted the bra colors. Then I started seeing more "I'm 12 weeks and craving Lasagna" popping up all over the Facebook much to a lot of people's confusion. A Twitter friend posted the explanation to what it was yesterday and I was finally fully clued in to what was going on.

It's supposed to be to raise awareness for breast cancer. Yes, you read that right. "I'm 8 weeks and craving Mastodon Meat" is to spread awareness for breast cancer. I get the premise. You post something like that, people who don't know what's going on are going to be confused and ask about it. It SHOULD get people talking. It's something the women are passing around to women only, though. I had someone forward me the message a little while ago so I could read exactly what it says. I'm apparently not one of the cool ladies who gets messages about these types of things from the women on my friends list. I'm kind of happy about that, actually. I digress. Here's the message going around:

"Ok pretty ladies, it's that time of year again, in support of breast cancer awareness!! So we all remember last years game of writing your bra color as your status?.....or the way we like to have our handbag handy? Remember last year so many people took part that it made national news and, the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we're doing this and helped raise awareness!! Do NOT tell any males what the status' mean, keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste (in a message ) this to all your female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year!!! I did my part... now YOUR turn! Go on ladies...and let's have all the males guessing! It's time to confuse the men again (not that it’s really that hard to do :)) Everyone knows it makes their brains work wonders on what we're talking about!! The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and let’s see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round all over the world. So you'll write... I'm (your birth month) weeks and I'm craving (your birth date) as your status. Example: Feb 14th= I'm 2 weeks and craving Chocolate mints!! 1-Skittles 2-Starburst 3-Kit-Kat 4-M&M's 5-Galaxy 6-Crunchie 7-Dairy Milk 8-Lollipop 9-Peanut Butter Cups 10-Meat Balls 11-Twizzlers 12-Bubble Gum 13-Hershey's Kisses 14-Chocolate Mints 15-Twix 16-Reese's Fastbreak 17-Fudge 18-Cherry Jello 19-Milkyway20-Pickels 21-Creme Eggs 22-Skittles 23-Gummy Bears 24-Gummy Worms 25-Strawberry Pop Tarts 26-Starburst 27-Mini Eggs 28-Kit-Kat Chunkie 29-Double Chocolate Chip Crunchy Cookies 30-Smarties 31-Chocolate Cake"

I know, I probably just committed some kind of crime against womanhood by spilling the beans to all those silly men who apparently all have such small brains and confuse so easily, but whatever. The snide, demeaning and catty overtones toward the general male population are annoying but I have other issues with this whole thing, too.

Like I said, I get the premise. You post something like that, people are going to wonder what the hell is going on. People are going to comment and ask what's going on and thus get people talking and sharing about breast cancer. The premise of it is great. The problem with that? Most people don't answer you to tell you what it is and most people don't end up talking and sharing about breast cancer.

"I can't tell you, it's a woman thing!"

"I'm not pregnant but you can't know what it is because you're not a woman! Hehehe!"

"Woman commenter, I'm not pregnant but I'll message you and explain so you can take part in it, too!"

"It's a secret so I can't let the cat out of the bag yet!"

Or if you can get an answer from someone explaining what it means then this is the simple reply you'll probably get, "It's to spread breast cancer awareness."

Often at this point, no more is said. If the person responds back or a different person says something, it could turn in to a conversation about how freaked out the person was thinking X was pregnant. More often than not, from my days of watching this, the conversation goes in a different direction that has nothing to do with breast cancer. Or no further conversation is had at all. Twice, I did see two people say it was for breast cancer awareness and were met with the question how this spread awareness. Both questions were answered with, "I don't know" and "I don't know but it was fun to do!"

You don't often see it turning into real awareness. You don't see any helpful information coming from it. Not a lot of talking and even less sharing and helping. There are REAL ways to spread awareness and a lot of them are as simple as posting these confusing Facebook statuses. One of the best ways to spread awareness about something is to ACTUALLY FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT. Not just say "we're raising awareness" because what are you really doing there? Raising awareness about.... awareness? Ooooh. Helpful.

TALK ABOUT THE ISSUE AT HAND. Donate time, donate money. Offer up links for people who don't know how to go about donating their time and/or money. Sign up for a walk or run* or other event. Find out about a walk going on and tell people about it. Contact an organization putting on a walk, run or other event and ask about getting fliers or other ways to help promote it. Talk about and encourage exams. Offer up information on where to go for exams. Volunteer with a local organization that is dedicated to breast cancer research and awareness. Start your own campaign within your community.
Offer up links to websites with accurate and relevant information so people can learn more about the disease, things to look for, self exams, etc.

My grandmother has breast cancer and another person in my family may also have it. We're not sure yet because she only recently visited the doctor my grandmother has been seeing. I know other people effected by it and I know a wonderful woman who has died because of it. When my grandmother started going through her treatments for it, it made me worry for myself. I did self-exams but I was worried and thought about early detection. So, I found a clinic that wasn't too expensive and had an exam done. Early detection of it is what's helped several women I know be able to beat it and carry on with their scars. I'm fine but I felt better really knowing I was fine.

I've volunteered, I've donated money, I've spent time helping promote events. I know most people would rather just post a status on Facebook and think they're helping because it's easier but if you're going to do that, at least post some links or information for people. Something more than spreading awareness about awareness would be more helpful and only takes an extra couple minutes. You can take that time away from Farmville or reading every single mundane update about what someone did today, right?

Another thing that irritates me over the whole thing is the effort spent to leave men out of this because really, this thing is more about playing a silly little trick on all the easily confused men in your life, right? Lets have a laugh and leave them in the dark, hehe.

Do people think men don't need to be made aware of breast cancer? Men apparently don't have mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, wives, girlfriends, fiancees, female friends or any women in their life apparently. So it wouldn't make sense for them to be aware of something so serious that could possibly effect a woman in their life or something that they may already be dealing with.

Also, while it's not as common, men can get breast cancer too. It's much more common in women but it does occur in men also. They can be effected by it through loved ones and people they care about or as personally as being the one with the breast cancer. Leaving men out of real awareness is ignorant. Or in this case, petty and childish.

There are tons of real ways to help with breast cancer awareness (and other diseases, too) and a lot of those ways aren't difficult and don't require much more time and effort than playing around on Facebook does. Here are some links to websites that can give you information on breast cancer, ways to help outside of donating money and much more.

National Breast Cancer Foundation
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The American Cancer Society

If you want to look for something local you can do, there are message boards/forums on several cancer related websites. Look there. Or, you can always use Google to find a local event, organization, etc.

Note: *Walks & runs are helpful. A lot of people think, "what does a stupid walk for cancer do?" but it does a lot. Walkers take pledges and the donations go to whatever organization that the walk is affiliated with to help fund research, pay for equipment and plenty of other things. It also offers a sense of comfort and/or camaraderie for people who have gone through breast cancer and survived, people who have it and are fighting it, people who have lost someone because of it, etc. For a lot of people, dealing with something that effects them or someone they love so seriously is made a little easier by having people who have been there and really know everything you've gone through. So, walks are good for a lot no matter what the cause is. They raise awareness, they raise funds for research and they help people.


from tumblr said...

you took the FB postings too seriously and youre an idiot if you dont get why its helpful and how its spreading awareness. smh.

phairhead said...

I agree w/ you, Ashley, if you want to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month then just fucking say it!

guess that makes me an idiot too :D

Hubman said...

I'm generally annoyed with anything on Facebook that resembles "support" for a cause in words only. I agree, if you want to do something for a cause, put your time and/or money where your mouth is and DO something.

Aurore said...

I can't tell you how much I hate all these stupid FB memes. It was sent to me last year by multiple friends and I refused to participate.

My aunt suffered a slow and painful death at the hands of breast cancer and so to me and my family, it's not a joke.

I asked my FB friends to sponsor me in a walk to raise money for breast cancer research - that brought the issue to the fore. Not a silly meme.

If every woman who changed her status made a donation or volunteered her time instead, we'd be further ahead.

Personally, I think silly memes like this disassociate the women who participate in them with the illness that could affect any one of them. It minimizes what we're talking (or as you say, not talking about).


D'Ann said...

Definitely need to say what it is you are supporting!!

TitsMcScandal said...

I agree 100%. I read a bunch of blogs that point out what you do. Then I read some that pointed out how infertility is a side effect of cancer, the statuses have a cruel irony. Of course there is also how hurtful it is to all those out there who are trying to have babies/infertile in general (cancer or not).

Myli said...

I don't get it either. I just don't know how tricking your friends and family into thinking you're pregnant, is a way to bring awareness to breast cancer. It annoys me and is pointless.

Jormengrund said...

To me, awareness is awareness regardless of male or female. Breast cancer affects all sexes, not just ladies, and I'm sure that there are plenty of men who have been affected by a loved one who has dealt with the affliction as well.

For someone to post that a status change is going to promote awareness is crap. Awareness is talking about an issue, not making a game of it.

Personally, I support Relay for Life, and I do all I can to support each and every cause I can. This is more than just a few people. It's about our species and the fight against a seriously cruel killer that we haven't learned to beat consistently yet.

Cole said...

If I've seen that, I've ignored it but I agree with your points.

How does it spread awareness?
How does excluding men spread awareness? Don't we want everyone to be pitching in?
Why exclude men when they can get cancer, too?
Why use something that is so confusing?
Again, how does this spread awareness?
And aren't we all awarE? Isn't action needed more than awareness.

Anonymous said...

I just caught this post and I agree with it. I donate time and money to a variety of causes that inflict my family. Breast Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer's....

All of which, this Joker feels should have been cured already. But that is fodder for another post.

Yes, the whole issue is stupid. If you want to get my attention, put in an action item. Donate time, money...whatever....

Good post!

Liontamr said...

Great article... But what is even more offensive about that whole meme is that men do in fact get breast cancer as well..

Grated it's rare, but it can happen.. And if the nimrod that wanted to *really* create awareness about breast cancer, she would have gone out of her way to make sure that everyone knew that it's not JUST a female issue, but a male one as well.