Color Me Facebook

8 01 2010

Have you been seeing colors on Facebook? Chances are, in the last few days, you’ve seen a female friend post a status change with a single word: white, tan, pink, bright blue! Chances are, some of these posts have been unnerving, as you probably feel left out of the loop on this enigmatic code of colors  (if you’re male, that’s the point).

I’ll put you out of your misery: The Facebook color posts are part of an intriguing campaign to raise awareness for breast cancer. Women post the color of the most relevant undergarment to breast cancer currently “on their person”.

Though the origins of the campaign may be unkown, one thing is certain: within days, it has spread like wild firewalls around the virtual Facebook world, evidenced by a recent post that appeared on my Facebook page:

Buddy the Elf: Black with Gold Mickey Mouse Heads.

Critics claim this crisis of color does nothing to create awareness for breast cancer, but only drives people who aren’t in on it crazy (read: guys). But I think it works on three levels

1. Backdoor Awareness: The color campaign works because it feeds into that inner monster, curiosity. It’s genius because it effectively captures our curiosity by teasing us to search for something that we might not have otherwise: breast cancer awareness. Let’s face it, though it may be one of the most serious and critical issues in our society, most people aren’t going to go online today and type in the search term breast cancer unless they’ve experienced a recent, intimate encounter with its effects. But people are more likely to be so unnerved about being out of the loop that they’ll go online and search “facebook color  posts”. This alternative entrance into the topic of breast cancer, then, serves as a backdoor to the issue for people who would otherwise not have given it much thought…and isn’t that the audience that breast cancer advocates are most interested in reaching?

2. Creating an In-Crowd Community. Let’s state the obvious for a minute: this color thing has spread like wildfire in only a matter of days (can you think of any offline campaign that has been able to do that?).  Why? Because it joined people into a “secret” (at least it’s supposed to be) club where they felt special to be a part of something “cool”. Sure, it’s high school, but it works. Little by little, facebookers who read the posts wonder what it is, want to be involved, and join the club by doing one simple thing: posting a representative color of a particularly relevant undergarment they’re currently wearing. Which leads me to the third level…

3. Pure Ease. What’s the easiest and most efficient way to get people thinking and talking about breast cancer? Hold a fund raiser where to be involved individuals have to donate money? How about a walk-a-thon, or some other athletic event that requires people to put miles into their commitment to the cause, literally? Or…how about encouraging people to post a color on their facebook page, which requires 1. no time and 2. no effort? Bingo. Color posting is a sickeningly easy way to get involved. In fact, you don’t even have to talk about your feelings, emotions, and tragedies that might be associated with breast cancer. You just have to post a color.

So…the facebook color post phenomenon raising breast cancer awareness is ingenius, and I laud its ability to get people involved in such an important cause in such an easy way…

That is…until my mom posts a color.