The interwebs -- and the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Facebook headquarters -- have been abuzz since news of the social networking site's IPO broke Wednesday. Within hours, anyone with a mic or a keyboard was thoroughly a-riff: Would the projected $5 billion trigger a new housing boom? Would it save the California economy?
Or was Facebook nothing but a data-mining outfit, selling our info to the highest bidder? With nearly half the world's internet users logged on, how could it grow?
But while the opinionators were opinionating, a good percentage of the social networking site's 845 million users (58 percent of them women, by the way) were madly liking, sharing and updating their news feeds to call out -- if that isn't too mild a word -- Susan G. Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
The irony that an organization that proclaims its dedication to curing (there's some debate on that, too) breast cancer would pull the plug on the funding for free mammograms was way too much. The backlash was fast, furious and viral. And it was all over our Facebook feeds.
Within hours, Komen was under immense pressure both within and without the organization. They backpedaled. Top officials resigned. Racers for the cure decided, well, not to. Comments like this one -- "I was sort of done when they partnered with KFC to turn the buckets pink -- that was a key notion that they weren't terribly concerned about women's health" -- took on a life of their own.
And Planned Parenthood? By Wednesday night, it had received $400,000 in donations. On Thursday, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg pledged to give Planned Parenthood $250,000.
For far too long, Planned Parenthood has been in the crosshairs of conservatives, who have tagged the organization as nothing but -- as the erstwhile presidential candidate Michele Bachman once called it, "the LensCrafter of big abortion" -- when in reality, Planned Parenthood is a prime provider of health care for women who can't afford it. (Abortions only make up 3 percent of the services it provides.)
As we've written before, we know of one woman, in fact, whose life may have been saved by Planned Parenthood. She discovered a lump in her breast shortly after losing her work-related health insurance. Where did she turn for a mammogram? Yep, Planned Parenthood, which ultimately shepherded her through the scary process of not only the diagnostics, but ultimately surgery, chemo and radiation.
And so, while some folks might look at Facebook and see a cashbox that will fill our local watering holes and pump some life back into the California economy -- and while others argue that it's nothing but a narcissistic echo chamber that keeps us fixated on the trivial -- at least for today, we can see it as something else: the social engine that may well have saved at least one woman's life.
By the way, this was my favorite update, to which the only possible response is "like!"