Just weeks after the dust from the Ice Bucket Challenge has settled, there's a brand-new social call-to-action: the #WakeupCall selfie. According to The Gloss, UNICEF is asking people to take a photo or video of themselves when they first wake up, post it to social media with the hashtag #WakeupCall, and then tag three friends to donate to help Syrian children. You can give to UNICEF by texting "Syria" to 70007 if you live in the U.K., or online if you're outside the U.K.
It's a pretty brilliant move on their part, combining the ever-popular #WokeUpLikeThis selfie with the viral gold of the Ice Bucket Challenge. A bunch of celebrities have already participated. But, we have to ask: Do we really need more hashtag activism?
While the Ice Bucket Challenge was kind of self-deprecating (no one looks good after dumping ice water on their head), #WakeupCall just mimics the vanity of #WokeUpLikeThis. It's a great excuse to show off your gorgeous face and help a cause — if you're comfortable plastering your mug all over the Internet seconds after peeling your eyes open. Or, if like many celebs, you have a crack team of hair and makeup pros at your beck and call to make you look like you wake up fresh-faced and camera-ready. (Ahem, Naomi.)
Call me cynical, but I also take serious issue with the humble-brag (#HumbleBrag?) that is hashtag activism. Sure, it raises awareness and encourages your friends to pitch in. But, there's something a little funny about flaunting your charity. Spreading the message is amazing — but, taking an icy shower just for the clicks is plain old wrong.
So, can it actually do good? Well, the numbers don't lie. The ALS Association did see a big bump in donations during the Ice Bucket Challenge's heyday. That said, we're sure there were scores of people who took the challenge without dropping a penny.
Here's another major difference between the Ice Bucket Challenge and #WakeupCall: There's nothing new about the latter. But, it's not every day that you see a person dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves on your newsfeed. Anyone with Instagram and a set of humble-braggy friends (or, anyone who follows Lena Dunham) has seen a #WokeUpLikeThis selfie. They've been around for over a year now, which is like a century in social-media time.
I'm all for donating to organizations like UNICEF and the ALS Association: They do good work, and they help people and places in need. But, using a gimmicky hashtag to get people to give isn't always the best course of action. At their best, these photos will serve as reminders for people to give when they can. But, why not visit UNICEF or the ALS Association and donate without showing off?
I think this type of activism is also dangerous because it makes it easy to pick up causes piecemeal — and then forget about them once they're no longer trending. Let's take time to research charities we feel strongly about, and feel good about donating to, instead of bombarding the world with more #WokeUpLikeThis spinoffs. That's the type of change we really need.
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