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breast cancer awareness, cyberactivism, mobilization

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Needs to be More than Pink Ribbons

by Deborah Cruz

It’s October and Breast Cancer Awareness month. Prepare for pink bows and mammogram reminders everywhere. Having known several women who have battled breast cancer, I strongly believe in advocating for the cause.

Having a blog gives me the unique opportunity of having an established platform for amplification for social causes. I want to help make an actual difference, not just talk about it. I want to be an agent for change and use my voice and my power to make the world a better place for my children. But it’s not always easy. Screaming into a void is not being a catalyst for change. Loud isn’t necessarily effective. My parents taught me that if I was going to say something, I should make sure that I’m saying something.

READ ALSO: How to be Proactive about Your Breast Health

How do you choose what you share on social media? None of us are mindlessly sharing. At the root of it, there is something worth sharing to us about that information. Do you ever really share something if it doesn’t appeal to one of your emotions? Whether its laughter, righteousness, justice, empathy or commiseration, there is a reason.

How many times have you written a social media post and really wanted to call people to action? Motivate or inspire them to take action and be the change they want to see in the world? This is called mobilization in the marketing world. Mobilization is defined as the process by which candidates, parties, activists and groups induce other people to participate. Many of us have used mobilization, maybe without even realizing it, this campaign season.

If you want to incite behavior change using social media, cyberactivism must be a part of your strategy. Cyberactivism is the process of using Internet-based socializing and communication techniques to create, operate and manage activism of any type. I’ve done this myself on many occasions.

READ ALSO: Sometimes the only option isn’t the right one

Things that happen to us in our lives, make us first-person advocates. Authentic calls to action are usually met with empathy, understanding and action from friends. The more scared you are to hit the publish button, the more effective the message. The more people who see the message, the more who can actively do something to to help the cause.

People like to do the right thing. Maybe they don’t have the money to donate but hitting the like button or sharing a status update for a good cause is easy enough for anyone to do but if it’s not clear does it bring the right kind of attention to the cause? How do we take the idea of cyberactivism and meaninglessly hitting a like button and transform that into real activism, in real life mobilization?

Every October, many people celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There was a popular Facebook meme where a private Facebook message request that asked women to put a single color as their status update. The color was to reflect the color of the bra they were wearing. It was simple, share your name and color (of your bra) for example, Debi, Red. The idea was that everyone would see the status and be curious.

READ ALSO: How uterine fibroids almost killed me

Another meme asked women to change their status to where they like to put their purse. Yet, another one asked for ladies to post the number of minutes it takes to do their hair followed by the word inches. These memes were great gimmicks to grab attention and get likes and shares but did they really raising awareness for breast cancer? How are these memes activating mobilization to cure breast cancer?

This kind of cyberactivism is superficial, there needs to be something of more substance; a more effective call to action. Sharing and liking funny or provocative Facebook statuses won’t cure breast cancer and don’t call the right kind of attention to the cause. Is awareness even the issue?

How can cyberactivism be more meaningful and effective this Breast Care Awareness month?

Why is Breast Cancer Awareness month associated with pink when it’s not just a female disease? Men can get breast cancer too. To be launch an effective social media mobilization campaign, we need to know what the actual issue and provide people with real-life actionable items to help the cause;

  • A list of where/ how to volunteer to help people with breast cancer.
  • How/where to donate.
  • Sign petitions.

Make people more aware of how to proactively care for themselves.

Knowledge is power and a lot more effective than sharing the color of a bra or where we like to it our purse. Most importantly, if you want to use your social media platforms to mobilize the masses to action, hit publish on those personal and authentic posts. Be relatable and it will move people to do more.

What will you do for your part to help prevent and cure breast cancer?


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1 comment

Vidhi 2020/10/16 - 1:12 am

Hi Deborah,
I really like how you personalized the facts from the case study to express the pros and cons of social media and breast cancer awareness. You wrote with such conviction and brought up a great point that men can get breast cancer too. You offered so many great resources, such as the 5 simple steps of performing a BSE. I love the fact that you linked your previous blog posts for further readings and kept me engaged. Great read!


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