When I was a kid, chain letters were a big deal. You'd get a letter in the mail, requesting that you send the letter on to 8 or 10 other people. There was a promise at the end that you would be rewarded by receiving many, many letters back from all over the world. Good luck and fortune would surely be yours! But there was also a threat. Those who broke the chain would be punished with severly bad luck. I never send the letters along, but I did feel very uneasy about the whole thing.
Once email took the place of pen and paper, it wasn't long before the chain emails started coming. They were similar to the other kind, but usually less threatening. I found that most of the ones I received were about sending love or empowerment to other women or moms or friends. They were sweet in intention, though still annoying. And I couldn't help but feel the veiled threat inside: if you don't send this along, you're not a loving friend, mom, sister or whatever.
Now, it's Facebook status. One of your friends will post a status. "Today is X awareness day. Copy this as your status today to show you support X." The first time I saw it, I thought it was pretty clever. I think the first one I did was in support of gay marriage. I support gay marriage! So I dutifully copied and updated my status. But things are getting out of control. A couple of days ago, we were all asked to post my bra color to support breast cancer awareness. It was fun; I did it. But then yesterday, I saw three different messages. "Support for autism awareness," an issue near and dear to my heart, was followed by "post this if you know someone who has lost a baby." Okay, I hate autism, but I guess I hate dead babies even more. This morning it was cancer. What is a responsible facebooker to do? If I don't post does that mean I'm for autism/cancer/dead babies?
I certainly don't mean to make light of the issues at hand. To tell the truth, I think social media has proven to be an amazing way to spread information really quickly. I think we are only just scraping the surface of the potential power of social networks. One popular blog, Cake Wrecks, recently asked readers to donate just $1 to various charities that they featured. They raised real awareness and, perhaps more importantly, tens of thousands of dollars by using their network. This is powerful. This has potential.
For now, I think I'm done with my FB support posts. I support you and your cause, but frankly, I just can't keep up. Oh, and please send this link to 10 of your friends.