A few days ago, I got a message in my Facebook inbox about how I should post the color of the bra I was wearing as my status update to raise awareness for breast cancer. My first thought was "meh." Breast cancer isn't something that I feel passionate about, and I like my clever, witty (ok, sometimes mundane) status updates better. Besides - I was just wearing a boring old beige bra. Where's the fun in that?
As the day went on, I saw more and more status updates with colors in them. I thought about playing along because it seemed the cool thing to do. But I didn't. It's not like I was raising money for charity or anything.
Last night, one of my friends posted this link to an article about the fad. It wasn't started by any of the major breast-cancer-awareness organizations. But according to those organizations, the little Facebook post-your-bra-color trend actually did raise awareness for breast cancer.
I mean, come on. Breast cancer is by far the most popular cancer (colon cancer tried for a while, but do you hear anyone talk about it anymore? No, but you can still buy a pink Kitchen-Aid stand mixer). Did breast cancer really need any more awareness? Weren't we all already aware of it? People still get breast cancer, but thanks to all the awareness out there, fewer women are dying from it (this article sums it up nicely, including this statistic: "Mortality of it has dropped over two percent a year since 1990 and rates remain to go down," or this article if you like tables).
Did the fact that countless women posted their bra colors on Facebook cause even one woman to say, "hey, I should schedule a mammogram?" Somehow, I doubt it. I think our culture is over saturated with breast cancer awareness, and the women who are going to get checked out are already getting checked for it regularly. The women who aren't getting their mammograms will continue to ignore the need - or, like a large percentage of Facebook users, are young enough to not require regular breast cancer screenings.
All right, maybe the Facebook game did raise some breast cancer awareness - but it's awareness in people who are already aware. Does that count as successful?
I think we should "raise awareness" for prostate cancer next. Men of Facebook, I ask you: boxers or briefs?
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