I’m here to talk to you about a very important issue that’s facing our community. You need to know about this. Cases of this issue have been rapidly on the rise—one might even call it an epidemic. It’s claimed lives. It’s bad.
This problem is called ‘raising awareness,’ and today is Raising Awareness Awareness Day. See? You’re aware now!
And you really need to do something to stop it, like donate money to me so I can spend a few cents on stopping it and a lot of money on some nice, artisanal coffee for the office. You might even get a complimentary T-shirt with a cool looking “Awareness Speaks” logo on it or something.
If donations aren’t your thing, you can always dye your hair red (my favorite color), or wear red clothes, or even eat some ketchup or something. That way you can show your support and more people will now be aware of raising awareness. They aren’t going to do anything, which could be good or bad, but at least they know it exists, and that’s what matters.
Seriously, though. Awareness sucks.
The problem is that when you point to something and go, “Here! I will now make you aware of this!” it doesn’t provide you with any meaningful information. You hear a slogan about how asexuals exist or breast cancer is bad or mental illness exists, and that’s it. This is a thing. It exists. It doesn’t tell you much about what the thing is, or what it’s like for people to live with the thing, or what to do in order to help them. If people have already heard of the issue, raising awareness just annoys them; if they haven’t, it won’t make them care.
That’s how you get things like the monstrosity of a breast cancer awareness campaign we have going on right now. There was a promotional game where you posted a made-up status saying you like to cover yourself in dirt and pretend you were a carrot, and so would anyone who liked it, as part of breast cancer awareness. The police department in Greenfield, Massachusetts has started using pink handcuffs for the same reason. And don’t even get me started on those awful “I Love Boobies” bracelets, which do a lovely job of making this all about the boobies instead of the person they belong to.
And sometimes, awareness without education can even be harmful. Look at Autism Speaks, a charity, if you can call it that, that’s poured tons of money into corny ‘autism awareness’ campaigns. They’ve worked. People are now more aware of autism. Great. Now bullies have another word to throw around the classroom as an insult. Now 4chan has another edgy joke they can tell each other so they can feel rebellious and politically incorrect. Now that everyone’s so aware, and so ignorant of what they’re supposed to be aware of, some people have started panicking about the Big Scary Autism Epidemic enough to not vaccinate their children.
That’s what awareness has given us. Measles.
Sure, people get motivated to do something, but that something usually means “donate money to whoever slapped their logo on the most ‘awareness’ merchandise.” These groups may be good. They may also not. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the charity behind all the pink, has sued other charities that use “for the Cure” in their name, and spends only 6% of its funds on treatments for people with breast cancer. So, no, it’s not working.
Raising awareness is pointless. It’s a waste of time. But if we work together, we have the power to change it. All you have to do is remember to wear red, and don’t forget to tell all your friends why—you’re raising awareness of raising awareness. If you really want to help, though, you’ll make a small (or large) contribution to The Ledger, so we can keep raising awareness of raising awareness until there is no more awareness and the world is at peace.