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Facebook Slacktivism: Charitable Opiate for the Masses

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You know you're starting to become predictable when you receive the following comment on your Facebook status: "Like Like Like! I hope there's a Huffington Post article about this soon."

Your wish is my command, friend-who-apparently-knows-me-too-well.

The status in question:

"ATTENTION ONE AND ALL: Remember that life phase between like 10 and 20 (give or take a margin of error) aka THE AWKWARD PHASE? Thousands of preteens and teens around the world are suffering every day. Let's make a difference! For this week, let's change our profile pictures to something from our loosey-goosey stage of life. Together we can make an impact! Repost this as your status & spread the word."

Yeah I know - excuse me while I scrape the layer of sarcasm off my computer screen.

But l am serious about one thing: What does anyone seriously think they're accomplishing with the recent slew of faux-activism Facebook statuses?

Let's recap in case you missed these gems:

If you saw a status such as "black lace" or "nude," it referred to the writer's bra color. Aim: To raise awareness of breast cancer. (No, I'm sorry; I think that actually just raised awareness of your breasts. But all your ogling online stalkers profusely thank you for sharing.)

And if your otherwise goodie-two-shoes female friends began leaving ambiguous statuses such as "likes it on the kitchen counter" or "likes it on the coat rack," don't start wondering about their new-found kinky promiscuity - they were actually just referring to where they prefer to keep their purses. And in doing so, they took strides for ... for ... oh wait, nobody really knows. But way to support the cause, ladies!

The most recent act of "slacktivism" (as a friend of mine so aptly coined it) involved changing profile pictures to a favorite childhood cartoon character. The amazing thing is, by posting pictures of He-Man and Doug Funny, we actually completely eradicated child abuse.

No ... no wait, I'm pretty sure we accomplished nothing but a trip down memory lane.

Go ahead and say it in the comment box: "But we were reliving our childhood and therefore it made us think of children and therefore we knew that child abuse was bad and therefore ..."

Hold up, amigo. Unless you followed that last therefore up with "I was inspired to donate or volunteer," you've just succinctly proven my point.

Let me supply your next line: "But I raised awareness!"

Sorry to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure nobody has missed the sad reality of child abuse or breast cancer. What about posting a link to a favorite charity? Or an inspiring video that draws tears and motivates people to click on a "Donate Now" button?

Wouldn't it be great if I could end the terrible awkward phase and make life easier for teens everywhere with a simple status update? I, for one, would have significantly less pictures to hide in the attic from my formative years. If I was actually capable of quantifying the ripple effect of my link-less Facebook status into a dollar amount (*cough*impossible*cough*), I might have a real fighting chance to make a difference.

If you want to post a cartoon character as your profile picture, by all means, go ahead. If you want to tell the world the color of your skivvies and where you "like it," get a Myspace account.

But first, let's get real and quit pretending it's actually solving any problems.

(P.S. Just to one-up you on another impending comment - before you harp on me for equating the infamous awkward phase to something as tragic as abuse or cancer, please Google "satire" and "dripping irony" and re-read my article. Thank you.)