In the media-driven world of today, we are continually bombarded with information spiralling in from all corners of the web, this is known as the ‘public sphere’. According to Habermas, the public sphere is a domain where people interact with each other about general matters of interest. Facebook, is an excellent example of a public sphere, as it is dominated by social interactions and ‘connections’. From people sharing a common interest by ‘liking’ a certain group, or joining a trend such as the ‘neknomination‘ trend or the ‘Kony2012‘ trend, Facebook, as a public sphere, encourages vast amounts of user generated content to emerge.
Among many ridiculous trends to emerge within the sphere of Facebook include the #nomakeupselfie. Advertised as a Breast Cancer awareness campaign, unlike none other, the #nomakeupselfie, aims to raise awareness for, you guessed it, breast cancer. Although Cancer Research received £2 million pounds in 48 hours last month according to the Independent. This Facebook ‘fad’ has become somewhat of a joke in the public sphere with many people refusing to partake due to a belief that taking a selfie won’t make a difference, or rather because they’re ugly.
In any case, using a public sphere, such as Facebook, to raise awareness for Breast Cancer is not only absurd, but also buy’s into individual vanity and narcism. Everyday we see advertisements for Breast Cancer awareness, from water bottles to car bumper stickers, how does showing everyone in your newsfeed just how good you look without makeup compare to simply donating money or time to seeing actual results?
Truth is, it doesn’t. Just like the failures of Kony2012, #nomakeupselfie buys into the idea of clicktivism… or slacktivism for those a little more negative. According to Kate White, from the University of British Columbia, “The way we define slacktivism is when the consumer is willing to make small tokens of support, when support is [given] in a very public in nature and people can kind of signal to others that they have already helped the cause they actually aren’t more likely to help later.”
This idea that the ‘bravery’ of a woman taking a selfie without makeup, is comparable to a women braving Breast Cancer, is almost the same as the belief that clicking ‘like’ or ‘I support’ on an issue such as Kony2012, will actually make a difference. Alex Mitchely, from The Citizen writes, “why are people not doing something a little more daring than not wearing makeup? I suppose it is equivalent to asking men to not shave for a day. How incredibly challenging is that?”
Essentially, don’t be lazy, go out and change the world, don’t just talk about it.