Why the Facebook Equality Avatars Do Matter

Why the Facebook Equality Avatars Do Matter

I am not a joiner. I am a well-documented bitter old crone who hates doing what everyone else is doing. I detest meaningless symbolic gestures like, “Let’s all not buy gas on this day” or “Let’s force everyone running for election to wear flag pins or risk losing, thus rendering the point of wearing a flag pin obsolete. Freedom.”

I never Twibbon myself or share photos for people who need X number of likes to get Miranda Cosgrove to dance with them at prom.

But. I did change my avatar on Facebook yesterday. I became one of many, many red equal signs, a faceless symbol of support. I didn’t do this to make myself feel good (OK, I did kind of feel good, but that wasn’t the point). I didn’t change my avatar because I thought it would make a difference in the Supreme Court’s decision about Prop 8 and DOMA. I didn’t do it thinking all of a sudden I’d get a text from Antonin Scalia saying, “Thx. I get it now.”

I changed my avatar to show that I stand in solidarity with my friends, relatives, and acquaintances for whom this decision means the world, for whom it means equal protection under the law for themselves and their families. I did it to let them know that I was thinking about them, that I care about them. It was a friendly gesture more than a call to action.

Maybe nobody cared that I and so many other straight folks took the few seconds out of their day to change their avatar. (It took me a little longer. Changing Facebook profile pictures is not as easy as it should be.) But this straight lady was so moved to see her Facebook news feed colored in red, to find people she’d never expect joining the fray.

No, people who pooh-pooh yesterday’s equal sign movement, changing one’s avatar won’t do anything but show support. Maybe it’s not much. Maybe it’s not enough. Maybe it’s too little, too late. But we (myself included) need to stop belittling other people’s actions, especially when they’re just trying to do something nice.

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Tags: Marriage Equality

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