Friday, August 15, 2014

Charity Terrorism

I notice there’s a lot of smash and grab charity campaigns out there today. It used to be that people would do meaningful things like run a marathon, do a long distance bike rides or cut all their hair off to raise awareness and money. In these cases there is at least a perceived feeling of sacrifice and were normally announced before the event giving people a chance to participate or not rather than forcing it in their faces after you've done it.

Now since charity organisations have really taken the mantle of pointless “looky looky” “feely-feely” social media campaigning we see a much more direct and perhaps socially manipulative form of charity campaigning. The latest form is the Ice Bucket Challenge (replacing the outdated flavour of the month the No-Make-Up-Selfie, incidentally does anyone remember what that was for? Awareness is only so good when every good cause isn’t also competing for the same prize), which I think has something to do with Motor Neurone’s disease, but has more to do with guilting people into participation by dunking your head in an ice bucket, filming it and going cap in hand to your Facebook page bleating “I did a nasty thing now give me money”. Oh, and the coup de grace of course is you also nominate others into participation publicly; probably the worst aspect. It’s one thing to do something stupid for money but another to then publicly dare someone else to do it. You’re now compelled by the laws of politeness and social niceties to take part in order not to appear like a socially undesirable goblin. That’s not raising awareness, that’s social terrorism and it’s annoying rather than sympathetic.

These are nearly always done under the banner of “awareness” which is all well and good. However, what is awareness. What if I were to write in big letters CAT ASPERGER’S? You’re now aware of it, aren't you? What are you going to do about it though. Anything? Nothing? Probably the latter. However at least you’re thinking about Cats with Asperger’s, which just about does the job. Maybe someone will donate.  However I suggest Fire-eating for the cause of Cat Asperger's but spend more time doing the act and forcing people to copy me (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT DO THIS!!) then are you going to be thinking about the socially challenged cats or the me blasting fire out my mouth like a big fucking dragon and telling you that if you don’t engage I’ll burn your house down?

Now I know this is a crude example but it depends how far you take this. After all, in the Ice Bucket case the person has already publicly done the act for everyone to see so you’re now compelled out of sympathy for the pain (rather than the stupidity) to pay up. Woe betide you if you’ve been nominated as now you have to pay or do the unpleasant thing. Or both! But do you actually remember the cause it’s related to? As I mentioned before with the No-Make-Up-Selfie I’ll be damned if I remember what it’s for. Maybe it was epilepsy, maybe it was donkeys? I don’t know. I wonder how long before it comes to a point where people hit themselves repeatedly with fruit (I’m going to trademark the awareness campaign “Fruit Punch” just in case) for Animal Cruelty.

Overall being held to ransom by charity with peer pressure doesn’t create a compelling cause. If you want to actually ransom someone for money (the Al Queda or FARC method. If only they had registered as charities and they may have had such different reputations) in the name of charity then do it, or at the very least threaten to shoot a cute looking dog or goat if people don’t donate to your cause. After all awareness is the most important thing. Personally I prefer the old method of soul crushingly sad photography of disasters and diseases. It just does the job.

NB: I am not going to do the Ice Bucket Challenge I am already a soulless social pariah.