In the last week I’ve come across countless posts on Facebook that involve a chain letter to “raise awareness about breast cancer.” The chain letter involves the poster choosing one of several statuses. When a person has then “liked” the status, the original poster forwards the chain letter to that person and the chain continues. The letter I’ve come across, which may just be one version of many, has the following message:
“Oh dear,dear,dear. You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below & post a status. This is the 2014 breast cancer awareness game. Don’t be a spoil sport, choose your poison & change your status.1) Damn diarrhea 2)Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket. 3)Anyone have a tampon. I’m out. 4) How do you get rid of foot fungus. 5)Why is nobody around when l am horny? 6) No toilet paper, goodbye socks. 7)Someone offered me a job as a prostitute but l’ m hesitant. 8)l think l’m in love with someone what should l do? 9)l’ve decided to stop wearing underwear. 10)l still love my ex. 11) l really don’t know how to tell anyone and l’m sick of hiding it l’m gay. 12) Guess it was 2 good 2 be true l’m pregnant. 13)Just won $7000 on a scratchy. 14)l’ve just found out l’ve been cheated on for the past 5 months. Haha…”
I generally don’t allow myself to be bothered by trivial things like this, but as I kept on seeing this same post with multiple apparent coming out proclamations, I became more and more irritated by it for several reasons:
1. Pretending that you are coming out is not only disrespectful to those of us who have gone through the grueling and emotionally charged experience, but it also makes a mockery of the entire ordeal. Coming out is to publicly acknowledge an acceptance of oneself with everything that entails: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. It is an experience that towers over all others in our lives because it is the single defining moment that determines the course of the rest of our lives. It allows us to find our strength to stand against those who hate us for something we cannot control. It is an individual and simultaneously shared experience that many of us cannot have because we were too afraid or forced into it before we were ready. It is difficult, terrifying, rewarding, and reaffirming. Few of us take it lightly because it is that momentous and it means more to us than you can ever know.
2. There is no actual information pertaining to breast cancer awareness anywhere within the confines of the letter; not a single fact or resource. To say that you are taking part in raising awareness for a cause is an outright lie.
3. If there was information in the letter, your status would confuse the message. It seems counterproductive to create a chain letter with statuses about things that have nothing to do with the real message. Yes, you are guaranteeing that more people see it by shocking people into commenting or “liking” the status, but you are inadvertently putting focus on the wrong thing and taking away from the cause. It would be far more useful and effective to educate those around you with relevant information.
4. This letter is considered a “game” of sorts; something that I do not for the life of me understand. Doesn’t a game have a purpose? Without a message actually attached to the chain letter, it serves no purpose but to spread a purposeless message. Isn’t a game by definition also supposed to be inherently fun? I’m not seeing the fun in misleading your friends, taking part in something with no purpose, and pretending to be part of a cause.
5. You’re damaging the credibility of yourself and those around you, even if your intentions were good. I feel like your future posts won’t be taken seriously now and you’ve taken away from any real difference you could make somewhere down the line with real information that actually pertains to the cause.
Many of you may have meant well, but you can’t honestly tell me you didn’t think some of these very same things. You’re intelligent people, but for some reason you feel compelled to share a letter that only propagates disrespect, perpetuates a lack of understanding, and discredits a cause worth fighting for. This isn’t meant to shame or scold you, but rather to make you aware of how spreading this letter not only comes across to the masses, but how it negatively impacts them as well. With that being said, I think it’s important to critically evaluate what we choose to share and pass on through social media; there’s no telling what effect it will have.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry