The great Facebook cartoon debate

For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, bear with me. For those who are, you may have some people friended who tend to do the whole “repost” thing for causes that really don’t make sense.

You know what I’m talking about.

“Post your bra color to show support for breast cancer research.”

“Post where you put your purse to show support for” something or other. I never did understand that one.

It is always followed by “change your status and repost – let’s get everyone involved, blah blah blah.”

For the past few days it was “change your profile picture to a favorite cartoon from your childhood to show support of the fight against child abuse.”

You were supposed to repost the little blurb, which said something about asking all your friends to do it because “we don’t want to see a single human face” so they could prove everyone was in support.

Cutesy little articles started to show up all over the Internet about how everyone was doing it. We’re not talking Anderson Cooper other or reliable news sources here, just blogs about how fun it is and “are you going to do it, too?”

Then things took a turn toward the nasty. The Facebook postings became a dire warning. In big letters and stuff.

“WARNING,” one post on my Facebook page stated. “The whole changing your profile picture to a cartoon was actually created by a group of pedophiles because if children see pictures of cartoons they will add them. It was on the program internet frauds and…will be on tv sometime tonight.. please warn and change your pictures……back!! It’s been on the News tonight.”

Bad grammar and punctuation aside, the whole premise is just silly. First of all, it’s the people already on Facebook being asked to change to cartoon pictures. I’m reasonably sure most children aren’t out cruising for friends by looking for cartoons. Next, I don’t know that pedophiles are organized enough that a group of them would sit down and hatch a scheme to use pictures of Mickey Mouse, Hong Kong Phooey and Betty Boop as a starting point on a social network with millions of adult members. There may be some pedophiles who know each other, but an organized group?

Yes, there are children on Facebook. Is it wise? I can’t answer that – it’s a parent’s call. Sometimes it depends on the kid. Hopefully, their parents monitor their activities, which is a whole different topic.

I was reading some of the links Facebookers posted in defense of their positions on the hoax/no hoax cartoon argument (you can’t really call it a discussion when people are that irrational and use $%@#& characters to make their point) and was fascinated by some of the comments on the article links.

One commenter posted “Users of Facebook have asked if (the request to change to cartoon pictures to support child abuse awareness) is a scam. Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, confirms it is not a scam.” The post then has a link to an article.

“Ah, finally,” I thought. “I’m getting somewhere. Facts.”


Just another link to another article, written by someone who doesn’t seem to be affiliated with any sort of actual news source. The article regurgitates the basic facts about the whole phenom, then said, when asked, Zuckerberg “confirms that it is not a scam, but there are still no answers for how the movement fights child abuse or fights the cause.” No actual quotes or comments from Zuckerberg, just someone that said he said something.

That isn’t a source. That’s hearsay.

Some commenters ranted and raved about children on the Internet, several said they wish Facebook would never have allowed kids onboard, which made me chuckle (By golly, children should be seen but not heard), and one went so far as to tell parents to give their child a color book and crayons and keep them off the Internet so they could not be harmed by creepy stalkers.

Everyone knows there were no creepy pedophiles before the Internet was invented, after all. Nope, no child molesters out there before computers came around, because we had coloring books instead.

One commenter pointed out that he (or she) was seeing cartoons from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. People were supposed to post their favorite cartoons, after all. I have to say, I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of Dora the Explorer or whatever is popular among the kindergarten set these days.

I also learned via a commenter that in the Pokémon community (yep, there is one. Who knew?) it’s “Change your profile picture to a Pokémon month.” This particular commenter thinks someone stole the idea from them and it grew from there. Oh, maybe there is a crime involved in this whole thing, after all.

So, bottom line. Did a group of organized pedophiles ask a bunch of teens and adults to change their profile pictures to a cartoon character in hopes of rounding up victims? Pretty darned doubtful. Did a sincere child abuse awareness group organize the event? Pretty darned doubtful. Did it raise awareness?

That’s a funny question. There are people who care a lot about it in the first place and changed their picture, just like they posted their bra color and where they drop their purse when they come home. Their hearts are in the right places, but they didn’t bother to check the information.

Awareness is an interesting thing. People are aware of breast cancer and child abuse, but that doesn’t mean it has affected their lives or that they plan to do anything about it. Most people who listed their status as “frilly lace with red polka dots” or “anywhere in the kitchen” weren’t thinking about the women dying of cancer. They were being provocative or lemmings. I’m not a fan of lemmings. And am not discussing my underwear on the Internet.

I saw a few people who stated they went online to local shelters or organizations and donated money in support of child abuse awareness. That is great. That is more than great. If a silly Facebook stunt helps out a child in need, fantastic.

Most people just changed their picture because it was fun, which is fine. Cartoons, Facebook and anything that combines the two should be fun.

I don’t repost those kinds of things, just like I don’t forward dramatic e-mails about a child kidnapped in some vague state at some vague time or a man dying of some rare disease that wants 1,000 postcards before he dies or Microsoft giving me $3 for each person I send the e-mail on to. They are almost always hoaxes, and I’m more a fan of original thought.

Check a reliable source before becoming a blind lemming (Hint: Facebook generally doesn’t count unless you want to find out if your friend is home from shopping or it’s someone’s birthday). Use common sense. If I want to know about a kidnapped child, I check Amber Alert. Also, “Billy’s Kick-Butt Blog of Bodaciousness” is usually not a reliable news source. It can be a starting point, yes, but follow up from there. Blogs, including this one, are someone’s opinion. That doesn’t mean they don’t include fact, but one must consider the source of the source.

Strangely enough, many of the comments on the articles about the cartoons were from people who were a little sad. They were having fun seeing all the funny old cartoon characters and finding out which ones were their friends’ favorites, then all the yuck got dragged into it. The words “buzz kill” and “fun suckers” were used more than once.

By the way, I also don’t repost the stuff because the punctuation and grammar is always so terrible and there is no way I am putting that next to my name. Just say “no” to reposting really bad grammar.

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