The Facebook Cartoon Character Conspiracy

07 Dec

You never know where folks are going to decide to make a stand, do you?

I’ll be honest with you, when I saw the first posts about changing your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character, I barely caught why.  Wasn’t really paying attention, and it was one of those things I ignored the first few times, like when someone says, “Koala bears are getting killed right and left somewhere, and 93% of people won’t repost this, cause they’re jerks,” or that kind of thing.

It turned out it was one of those awareness-raising concepts, like when women were posting where they liked to toss their purses upon their return home – that one was to raise awareness for breast cancer.

This time it was about child abuse – against child abuse specifically.  So I figured, what the hell, who doesn’t oppose child abuse?  And I tossed a picture of The Tick up there.

Now, I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about this with a straight face, but to be clear here, at no point was I under the impression that any money would be raised for child abuse prevention, and in general, I never thought for a second that a bunch of profile pictures of cartoon characters would do anyone any tangible good. 

I thought it was cute, nostalgic, and mildly entertaining watching who picked which characters, and what the characters were doing.  And it took about fifteen seconds.

So then as typically happens, a very small percentage of people decided this was stupid and lame and all that, which is fine, it was both of those things if you came at it with a cynical perspective, just like lots of things that are cute and fun.

If you watch Pirates of the Carribean with a stick up your butt, then you’re going to spend the whole time muttering about how this could like, never happen.  Watch it like you’re a twelve year old kid, and you’ll have a blast.

Your attitude, in other words, is totally up to you.  Although it’s generally considered polite, if you’re in a full movie theater and you don’t like the movie, to remain quiet anyway, so you don’t ruin it for the people who came here to relax. 

But you’re right, it’s not a movie theater, it’s Facebook, and if you want to come stomping out of your tent and pee out everybody’s campfire and tell them to knock off all that pointless singing, well that’s your right.  Fight the power.

The main concern people seemed to have was that the profile pictures wouldn’t actually do any good, wouldn’t actually be productive, wouldn’t really save any kids from child abuse at all. 

Again, on freaking Facebook – isn’t that a horrifying idea?  I can barely stomach the notion of unproductive, silly nonsense stinking up that most sacred Online Temple of Efficient Time-Use.  Yes, please, from now on – would everyone confine your Facebook activity to small business ventures, scientific research and crimefighting?  It’s the right thing to do.

Anyway, it’s cool – if you didn’t want to change your profile picture you didn’t have to.  And if the cartoon characters were bothering you, well then I don’t know how you’ve been functioning on Facebook thus far.  It is, like Monty Python’s Camelot, a silly place. 

But by far the craziest thing about this is the rumor that spread really quickly that the movement was started by pedophiles – an absolutely baffling conspiracy theory that I’m trying to get my mind around. 

First, the logic, I guess.  Please tell me, what was stopping the pedophiles from using cartoon characters without everyone else doing it?  Wouldn’t that be a simpler plan?  Just change your profile pic to Spongebob and start friend requesting little kids?  You see how that was already an inherent danger with Facebook – no need for an elaborate, viral campaign.

Are you saying they’d blend in or something?  So if I’m following you here, the kids last week would have got a friend request from the pedophile with Smurfette as his profile pic, and they would have ignored it, thinking, you’re not really Smurfette.  But now that everyone has profile pics of cartoon characters, they’re going to be right on board? 

Hello and welcome!  I know you’re not Smurfette, but you’re a stranger wearing a Smurfette suit, in keeping with the recent Facebook trend, so I hereby drop my guard!  Do you have any cookies?

Honestly, it doesn’t sound to me like you know very many kids, if you think that. 

And, really, if that’s your kid, one so young and naive that cartoon characters can show up and gain his or her trust, then your kid does not belong on Facebook.  No doubt about it. 

So I went ahead and googled it and the first thing popped up was this article, which says, no, don’t be ridiculous, it isn’t pedophiles.  A single British child advocacy agency denied having anything to do with the campaign.  So then someone made the logical leap to “No child advocacy groups at all had anything to do with the campaign.”

Then someone even more clever made the leap to “It must have been pedophiles!”

The reason that I’m holding the article above the television is, the article doesn’t have anything to prove because it isn’t making an extraodinary claim.  A secret, Facebook-savvy marketing team of pedophiles conspiring to trick everyone into providing them cartoon character cover – that’s a pretty extraordinary claim.  Anyone got a shred of evidence to back this up?

No, of course not.  How on earth would they?  Do you think that pedophiles are an easily identified Facebook demographic?  Do you think the pedophiles have a Facebook page we can trace this back to?  Do you think they list “pedophilia” as one of their interests or “likes?”

How exactly would you confirm an awful rumor like that?  And wouldn’t you want to confirm it, before passing it along?

Because passing a horrific and false rumor along seems to me to be more destructively lemming-like than the harmless posting of cartoon characters on one’s profile picture. 

I’m pretty sure everyone was just having a laugh.  You didn’t have to think it was funny, but very honestly, the fact that an argument took place at all – let alone a borderline uproar – makes me giggle hysterically, and not necessarily in the fun kind of way.

When you wear team colors on game day, it doesn’t have any effect on the game.  Nobody catches a ball or drops a ball because of the sweatshirt you’re wearing.  People do it to show support and solidarity, to feel a connection – there’s nothing sinister about it.  For my part, I really and truly and powerfully don’t care even a little bit who wins any football game from now until the end of human civilization, but you won’t find me running around insulting football fans or calling them sheep.  They’re having fun – why would I want to take that away from them?

Was it lemming-like, the cartoon character thing?  Well I don’t know, but if you’re on Facebook, then you followed a giant herd of lemmings there just like the rest of us.  Sometimes lemmings aren’t running off a cliff – sometimes they’re all headed out to the park to throw a frisbee around or something.  If all lemmings ever did was kill themselves, then there wouldn’t be anymore lemmings left to talk about.

If you see someone drinking out of an American Cancer Society coffee cup on their front porch while they read the newspaper, make sure to run up and smack it out of their hand, while you’re at it, and scream “You’re not really curing cancer you’re just drinking coffee!”

Or, alternatively, you might consider lightening up a bit.  That probably wouldn’t hurt anything, either.


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6 responses to “The Facebook Cartoon Character Conspiracy

  1. ecossie possie

    December 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    People are stupid in the UK the News of the World printed a list of 50 peadophiles liveing in a certain area.An angry mob of vigilantees attacked there homes.Although the list was old an the people at thease adresses were inocent prople with children.Another angry mob discovered a peadiatrician in the phone book an attacked her home thinking she was a peadaphile..

  2. Kimberly Kinrade

    December 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Sad to say I’m kind of behind on everything ever happening anywhere. What’s perhaps sadder, or maybe not, is that you are my primary news source LOL So, I had an inkling that something was happening with the cartoon thing, and thought I might have noticed a stir about it, but honestly have been so busy using FB chat to stay in touch with my boyfriend that I really didn’t give it much thought.

    Now that I’m in the loop, I must say this seems outrageously silly. I mean, really, I’m totally anti-pedophile, as you well know Tom. We both are. It’s a cause we share. But I must say this leap of illogic is just asinine! Honestly people, get a clue!

    I didn’t change my pic, but only because I wasn’t paying attention and really don’t care to. LOL I’ve been distracted. But now I might just to say, “Look, this is all in fun. Get over yourselves!”


  3. sparrow1969

    December 8, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I actually did change my picture, just for fun. I didn’t realize why people were doing it, but I was tired of my picture, and thought it would be fun to throw up one of my favorite cartoon characters: Hong Kong Fooey.

    I sure do miss The Tick!

  4. Go-Go Rach

    December 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    You know, I read a nasty post by a blogger I used to respect and look up to, until this particular person tore everyone apart for changing their profile pics, instead of doing something, or donating money. I wrote a book of a comment, then deleted it because I may have started an on-line pissing contest that I do not have time nor energy for. I also removed all of my “likes,’ etc. that had anything to do this rude, presumptuous person.

    I changed my profile pic, while I enjoyed the sea of cartoons because it was FUN and I felt I was doing what I can to raise awareness about child abuse. I’m the kind of person that would give buckets of money away for good causes, if I had it. Since I am out of work and broke, I offer my time volunteering, donating items AND supporting ideas I believe in. I know our collective efforts raised awareness because EVERYONE was talking about it AND I passed it on with the hope that others with the money to donate, would.

    When I saw how many people where participating, I was happy and felt I had done something good for those kids. It is laughable that people would claim a unified change on one of the most popular social networks in the world does nothing. Who do “they” think they are? Changing our facebook profile pics is a lot like wearing a t-shirt (or carrying a cup) in support of our chosen causes. I suggest the naysayers and complainers to find something better to do with their time than to try to embarrass millions of people who all had the intention FOR GOOD.

    Here’s a suggestion: How about they use the time they are killing spewing useless negativity to volunteer at one of the organizations “we are not helping.”

    G0-Go Rach

  5. ecossie possie

    December 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Well said Go Go Rach an also a very sensible peice of reasoned writting Tom…I loved Hong Kong Phooey as a kid…Never heard of Tick though..I dont have a Facebook thingy but if I did would choose either Stewey from Familyguy or Bam Bam from the flintstones as my cartoon alternate,Both children so Thease twits would have me pegged as a preevert….


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