Enough With Empty Social Media Challenges Already

Social media can be a powerful force for good. We all remember the ice bucket challenge in which participants were asked to either dump a bucket of ice water over their heads or donate to ALS research.  The movement significantly raised awareness for ALS and contributed over 220 million dollars to the cause.

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He even does charity in a gross way.

But social media can also be a powerful force for confusion and maybe wasting everyone's time, as evidenced by the latest challenge, "the #WomenSupportingWomen #ChallengeAccepted challenge." This noble feat asks women to post to Instagram the most flattering picture of themselves possible in black & white and then donate to ... nothing. Hmmm.

The supposed purpose behind this "movement" (now over 3 million posts strong) is broadly for women to empower women, but many women have been questioning the efficacy of such a trend. Said tech CEO advisor Brooke Hammerling in her weekly pop culture newsletter:

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"I just don't know what it stands for. Virtually everyone in my life has done the challenge, a lot of my friends and a lot of people I love. I'm 100 percent for women supporting women and I'm grateful to the women who nominated me, but I don't understand how a black-and-white vanity selfie does that. If we could do portraits of the women who inspired us, that would be a little bit more in line with what this is trying to accomplish."

See one of the problems is, much like this Adam Sandler rendition of Hamilton, it's not quite clear whom, if anyone, this is for.

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We've got a possible message about femicide in Turkey, a possible link to a former cancer challenge from 2016, or as some have speculated, a possible show of solidarity for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's speech on the House floor. No one is really sure, and that makes the simplicity of this challenge feel all the more vapid.

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Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is Turkish women playing 4D chess with the western world's vanity, and the ease of posting a hot selfie with little context has brought their plight more press than a bucket of ice and a donation link ever could. But we've seen so many empty "challenges" that it's hard not to feel cynical. There was the pillow challenge:

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And the 10-year challenge:

And posting a black square in your feed for #BlackOutTuesday, which ended up actively hurting the BLM movement:

There are many more like these. Some of them are meant to be charitable. Some of them are meant to be fun. All of them take little to no effort. Whatever tiny power social media has to actively enact change, these "challenges" piss all over it (yep, there's a pissing challenge) by either not really requiring you to do anything or not contributing to anything meaningful.

It might be time to stop with these challenges altogether, but until we do, I hope someone starts a "donate to a cause you support" challenge. Then when you're done you can log off and do whatever the hell you want.

Support Dan on Twitter and he will talk about his life with you in lieu of getting a therapist.

Top Image: Ivanka Trump/Instagram, Khloe Kardashian/Instagram

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