Social media activism, defined by the bravery of Internet users in “liking” a Facebook page titled “cancer is bad,” is largely useless; raising awareness is a buzz phrase thought up by some hack, and almost any basic act of charity you can perform has more net value than retweeting any message of support, no matter how thoughtfully worded it is.
This much is obvious to anyone who’s spent a second thinking about how change is actually affected in the real world, which is why UNICEF Sweden has drawn up an ad campaign making fun of anyone who thinks they’ve done their part on Facebook. In one ad, a child talks to the camera from inside a dreary room as he narrates his fear of becoming sick—but it’s alright, because UNICEF Sweden is close to 200,000 likes. Problem solved! (The other ads are cheekier, as a man tries to pay for goods and services in “likes” before being denied; they’re funny, but less striking.) It’s a smart campaign, because they strike a chiding tone toward anyone who thinks Internet solidarity is enough on its own without being condemning; a mirror of self-awareness, rather than a pointed finger. There’s a bit of exasperation to it, too, at the thought of anyone being satisfied with themselves for the most ionically-sized effort put forth toward solving the world’s problems. Maybe it’ll get you off Facebook, no?