She's a character, she has opinions.

What is Awareness Worth?

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It’s so simple to spread awareness. Buy a t-shirt, wear a rubber bracelet, post a link to your Facebook. I do some of that, too. And I don’t deny the importance of awareness in some cases, but in others I think it’s next to worthless.

It’s important to be aware of things that are in your control. Watch your sugars, get a mammogram or a colonoscopy, wear sunscreen. (What? It really was good advice.) Awareness in these cases hopefully translates to action. Because you’re aware that you are at risk for something you can take action to prevent it. In my opinion, that is the highest purpose of awareness campaigns: to promote action.

Sometimes awareness fails because it doesn’t target the entire at-risk population. For example, breast cancer pink, which I think is valuable in getting many women to be aware of breast cancer risks, is also misleading because it targets only cis-women. This may make other people think they are not at risk, when that is factually not true, because if you have breast tissue and and hormones–as all humans do–you too could get breast cancer. (For more information about this, and for things you can do to help yourself, see “Everyone is at Risk.”)

When awareness fails is where it meets slacktivism. If spreading awareness has no practical outcome other than making you feel good, then it’s purposeless. Though, I do argue that there are occasions where a near-meaningless status update can spark a desire to learn more from someone else who does then take action, and that is important. But for the most part, posting, sharing, or linking to something you don’t understand, with no intent of understanding, and with no intent of taking action, is worthless.

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Written by tldegray

March 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Social Justice

Tagged with ,

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