I must admit, I’m a sucker for a social media craze – particularly ones to do with charity. To my shame, I was responsible for creating a ‘Cover the Night’ event for KONY 2012 that never happened (remember that?). And even before then, I was hopelessly telling the world the colour of my knickers on Bebo with the vague sense that it might do some good for someone somewhere. Flash forward to 2014, the year of the NekNominate, and you have a chain charity campaign that actually appears to be doing some good by raising money for various cancer charities. So, nominated by a friend who lost her mother to cancer at an early age, I was more than happy to post a makeup free snap, accompanied with a £3 text donation to a cancer research charity. (I hardly wear makeup to lectures anyway, why waste precious time doing your eyeliner when you could be eating? Or even better, sleeping?).

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I was nominated by a 3rd year Biology student from Exeter University, who believes that: “Although people say it doesn’t make a difference it does. Times are changing what with social media, so ways to fundraise have to as well. Adverts on the telly may not get seen or have the same impact. But almost everyone has Facebook and if you see your friends donating it may well have a bigger impact.”

However, not everyone agrees and Hannah Louise Tracey has noticed an influx of criticism over the awareness-raising campaign. “Some people I know reacted negatively. They believe that it’s not really about awareness– just fishing for compliments and that it leads to making a mockery out of something serious,” she says. “People are now donating because of this, but why didn’t they donate before? Why is it that now it’s a trend that it becomes more important? I’ve seen people expressing the view that a bare ‘selfie’ is just about attention rather than the actual cause.” Hannah does not share the critical view of some of these Facebook users herself, and took part by taking her own photo and making a donation.

Claire Mellor agrees :“Unfortunately this is the society that we live in. If it’s not on Facebook it apparently doesn’t get noticed. Any awareness is good awareness and I feel that people are jumping on a bandwagon fuelled by people looking to criticize something. This ‘selfie’ thing is in no way different to making your facebook status the colour of the underwear you are wearing or your relationship status coded in fruit.”

So has the trend served its purpose or is it just another fad?

“I think it’s excellent and the media has been full of stories about how there has been a surge in donations, not just for Cancer Research UK but for Macmillan which pays for nurses to support the terminally ill and also local charities, which is why I donated to Welsh cancer charity LATCH,” says co-editor Natalie Ann Holborow. “It’s gone beyond just raising awareness of breast cancer and I’ve frequently seen people donate ‘in memory of my grandfather’ for example or for different variations of cancer. Criticism I think is simply on those who are posting ‘selfies’ but not donating, and I guess some people will accuse those of just ‘fishing for compliments’ as an act of self-indulgence. However, I’ve seen the majority of people doing this making donations as well and so are the men (some of them even with mock selfies).”

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She adds, “Movember was met with respect and was well supported as it has been every year and I think this cause deserves just as much appreciation and support. I think there’s a culture on social media for debating and antagonizing any trend, including those in aid of charities and people will find reason to criticize anything. When you consider how much has been raised in aid of cancer charities and the fact that everybody is talking about it, perhaps even the arguments that have ensued over social media have actually pushed the awareness-raising. We ladies should be proud of ourselves for raising awareness for a good cause and equally the men who’ve donated too should be proud of themselves for helping out…and I’ve no doubt there are some males who’ve chosen to go make-up free too. Make-up certainly isn’t restricted to just women.
It’s a shame not even a bit of fundraising and awareness-raising can get onto social media without being met with raging debate and criticism. The original idea was to raise awareness and raise money, it’s done that, surely the project can be considered a success!”

What do you think? Smart fundraising or just another social media craze? The Siren would love to hear your comments.

by Zoe Alford

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