Social media and cancer awareness: Be better where it counts

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Is it really that simple?, social media
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pink ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

Last December, I saw a Facebook status update for cancer awareness that I didn’t like.  I didn’t like it because I didn’t think it was effective.  I conducted a little experiment with my own Facebook status to see if I could improve on the idea.  You can read more about it in my blog post entitled “How I’m doing my part to find a cure” but the gist is that I encouraged people to share their cancer stories on my Facebook page.  For every story shared, I would donate $2 to the Canadian Cancer Society.  The experiment was quite successful.  I had over 40 stories shared and enough people jump in and match my donation out of their own pockets to bring the total donation up to a whopping $500.00.  All from one Facebook status and a desire to just do a little bit more.

Today, one of my Twitter mates, Michelle, took it upon herself to revive the idea on her Facebook wall.  Inspired by Breast Cancer Awareness month, Michelle has made her status update the following:

Here is my cancer awareness post: Facebook says I have 666 (yikes!) friends. Instead of telling me your bra colour or where you like to leave your purse, share a memory of someone in their lives touched by cancer by commenting on this status or leaving a note on my wall between now and November 30. For every comment I will donate $1 to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Now, if you know Michelle, please go share your story on her Facebook page.  I would love to see her make a $666 donation.

At the beginning of the month, another of the Calgary Twitterati, Jillian Walker, posted a blog post about her encounter with breast cancer.  A brave and inspiring move, she told the story in detail from discovery of an unusual lump in her breast through to surgery and recovery.

We’re not all cancer survivors, and many of us still (thankfully) haven’t been directly impacted by cancer.  But just because we may not have a personal story to tell on the matter, doesn’t mean our participation in a campaign as important as this one can’t have an impact.  Online social networks give us each a voice.  It’s easy to forget how little it takes to go a thousand steps further than we’ve ever been able to before today.

The point here is that we have a chance to be better.  Everyday, we can live our lives better, we can share and inspire others better.  It doesn’t take much, just a little creativity… and everyone’s got at least a spark of that in them.  Before you jump on the next meme, think about what’s behind it.  If it’s something silly, have at it.  Enjoy.  But if it’s something that is genuinely attempting to accomplish a goal as important as cancer awareness, please give the subject matter the respect it deserves by at least taking a second or two to think if your participation actually makes an impact, or if there’s a chance that you can make it better.  Without the effort from each of us as individuals, the whole will never get better.  Help out those you’re trying to support and just be better when it counts.

If you’d like to find ways you can help, from volunteer opportunities to making a donation in Alberta, the Canadian Cancer Society page has the resources you need.  If in another province, try visiting the homepage and navigating to your province and the “how you can help” tab from there.

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