If you’ve logged in to your Facebook account today, you will have no doubt seen the barrage of naked faces taking over your newsfeed as girls around the country take off their make-up and take a bare-faced ‘selfie’ in order to raise cancer awareness.
Naturally, all the ladies I’ve seen look beautiful regardless and some have kindly donated money to various cancer charities today – which is a fantastic bonus. But much like with Movember – a charity trend that started with a handful of men growing moustaches for the month of November to raise money for prostate cancer – has this morphed into something that isn’t really about charity – but about ourselves?
A lot of online trends are of course born from people riding the interweb coat-tails in order to claim their 5 minutes – from planking and doing the Harlam Shake through to NekNominates and snapping yourself every time you hear the #SELFIE song being played, it’s almost a compulsory online game that we all have to play along with in order to gain any kind of social standing.
So when it comes to charity and acts of selflessness, is utilising a viral platform in this way a good thing – does it work? Or has it become less about giving and raising awareness and more about individuals playing online ‘tig’ and craving more face-space without really giving a thought to whether it’s actually aiding the cause that they’re gunning for?
Of course, as with any online trend, I’ve seen more people complaining about it than actually taking part. Among the (very small amount of) praise these ladies have received, it’s also sparked big online debate as to what this is actually doing to raise awareness, criticism as to the ‘real’ motivation behind the post and, sadly, a backlash from people who don’t trust that the self-portrait is entirely natural…
I’m a firm believer that any publicity is good publicity. I take my hat off to the ladies who have taken selfies today because, no matter what is driving a trend – it’s still trending. I even take my hat off to the haters (I’m going to have to buy more hats) because, by posting their cynical rants, they too are spreading cancer awareness. If this trend has made one person donate to cancer research in a back-lash today, then wasn’t it all worth it?
This wouldn’t be the first time a back-lash has actually helped a cause either – many charities have flipped an online trend in order to spread word on their cause because, whether you like it or not social platforms are the strongest marketing platform out there today and what better way to utilise them then to spread a good message?
When taking a picture of yourself for your social platforms was dubbed ‘taking a selfie’ the term was soon given a hashtag and posted alongside bathroom mirror pictures world-wide. However, at the end of last year the #Unselfie went viral along with #GivingTuesday to flip the trend on it’s head. Instead of the standard #Selfie, people began to write the details of their chosen charity down, using their face-space for a good cause.
Whether you love or hate the #Selfie, you can’t deny that without it, there would be no #Unselfie…
Twitter was the first platform that gave us hashtag trends – a great way to aim your tweets towards the audience you most want to target. As well as it being a great way to see what’s happening in the world or what the twittersphere is talking about, the hashtag is also used to spread comical trends and phrases across the globe. One particularly famous one being the #FirstWorldProblems tag – a hashtag that started to poke fun at tweets complaining about…well, the little things in first-world daily life that don’t really justify a tweeted complaint:
“Really sick & tired of this place using too much orange zest in my brunch mimosa”, “So sick and tired of Apple products” and “My pool cover won’t open properly, what a drag” being amongst the tweets that were being poked at and inspired online mickey-taking world-wide.
However, the charity Water Is Life didn’t see the funny side and decided to aim to stop the selfish hashtag by posting a film encouraging donations towards bringing clean drinking water around the world and helping towards real, life-threatening problems. The video in questions took some of the most notorious #FirstWorldProblems tags and gave them to Haitian’s to read out to drive home what real problems really look like – a very powerful campaign that might not have been so successful if not for the original, comical trend.
One of the most recent online trends is also the most notorious: NekNominate. A trend supposedly starting in Australia, the aim of the game is to neck a pint while being filmed and nominating someone else to do the same. This resulted in challenges going over-board and ending tragically in a handful of cases.
However, the original game of downing a drink and encouraging your peers to do the same in this online drinking game was flipped on it’s head in South Africa when RakNominate began. Instead of nominating peers to neck a drink, RAK (Random Act of Kindness) encouraged people to film themselves in a selfless act instead:
So whether you’ve taken part in today’s #Selfie trend, have shown support to the ladies by donating, have donated as a result of the back-lash or even just had a little rant about it – the internet is such a powerful tool that without even realising, you may have raised online awareness. Which can’t be a bad thing.