Most Awareness Campaigns Are a Waste of Time
What You Think You Do
By wearing a Livestrong bracelet or a pink ribbon, or perhaps growing a mustache for Movember, you're doing important work by drawing the public's attention to an issue that needs support. It's the ultimate in everyday do-goodery -- easy, cheap, fun, and works like a charm.
Why You Shouldn't Do It
Sure, awareness campaigns are great ... if they're for an obscure yet noteworthy issue that needs publicity. However, that is rarely the case -- most of them focus on well-known problems that are most likely to gain media space and public attention.
Take breast cancer: Despite the many, many, many awareness campaigns thrown at us by everyone from our co-workers to goddamn KFC, breast cancer death rates have stayed steady over the last decade.
You can't get breast cancer if you die of a heart attack. Charity!
The reason behind this is three-pronged:
One, it's breast cancer. An awareness campaign for breast cancer was vital in, say, the '60s and '70s, when words like "breast cancer" were never even uttered in public (let alone plugged during an NFL game). Today, however, everyone is aware of its existence, and there are maybe three women in America who don't know that they should be checking their breasts every once in a while. This means that all those campaigns are telling you things you already know full well, to the point that your brain is just starting to tune them out.
Two: Not only are most awareness campaigns useless, they often actually harm their cause by misrepresenting the very problem they're trying to fight. Many breast cancer campaigns focus on how sexy boobs are, with clever slogans like "I grab a feel so cancer can't steal." Ignoring how weird it is that a bunch of men clearly sat around a board room and brainstormed ways to make their anti-cancer campaign sexy ("I want our audience to be like 'Finally, a cancer I can fuck'"), it's also not helping. The young, perky women wearing a "save second base" shirt who are often closely associated with these campaigns are in fact among the least likely to get cancer. The more probable victims are in fact their grandmas, who tend to be pretty much ignored in these campaigns for the very simple reason of, well, granny boobs. The real tragedy is glossed over, which you may recognize as being the exact opposite of awareness.