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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Social Networking + Bras = Awareness

Posted by Stradden Friday January 8 2010 at 12:41PM
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Over the last few days, I’ve been reminded of just how powerful online communities can be, often far surpassing the specific intended uses of the software that allows it to happen. There are literally hundreds of stories that have come out of MMOs of all stripes and sizes of their communities using their game in ways that they hadn’t intended, from hide and seek to impromptu jam sessions and beyond.

Today though, I wanted to talk use my blog to talk about Facebook, and the recent phenomenon that’s been going on in its community.

If you’re like me and are as out of the loop as I’ve been, you’ve probably been wondering about the flurry of status updates from your female friends listing a single color (or pattern), and nothing else.

And, if you’re like me, and are the inquisitive sort, you’ll be wondering what exactly might possess your female friends (who don’t even necessarily know each other) to take leave of their senses all at once.

It turns out that this whole thing is designed to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. It’s a great idea, and shows how effectively online communities can be used to get people on the same page who would otherwise have nothing else in common. I found it fascinating, for example, that my female friends from within the gaming industry are as on board with the idea as are my local friends.

The problem, however, is that before I got inquisitive and started digging on my own, I had no idea what the point of the exercise was. Somewhere in the social network the actual meaning was lost, or buried, and that’s a shame.

So, first, consider yourselves informed as to what it is those ladies are talking about. It’s their bras. Fascinating, no? It’s actually brilliant in terms of awareness raising. If every time every guy thought about a woman’s undergarments, he also thought about this cause, awareness would cease to be a problem.

The thing is, awareness alone is not enough and so, gentlemen, let’s not be outdone by the ladies and their wily bra color statuses. Every time a female friend of yours posts her bra color, we should send a gentle reminder that awareness is one thing, but money for research is another. Let’s play our part in this exercise by providing a link that points people toward either the American or Canadian Breast Cancer Foundations. Look, I’ve even Tiny URL’d it for you.

American Breast Cancer Foundation:
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:


Harabeck writes:

Or, we could send money to support research to cure diseases that kill many more people. Breast cancer only gets so much attention because it's the panda of diseases, it evokes an emotional response when potential donors think about it. Diarrhea and dysentery kill many more people world-wide and are much easier to treat. But who wants to give money to that?

Fri Jan 08 2010 1:23PM Report
Stradden writes:

So start a Facebook movement, if you feel so passionately. Of course there are many, many different causes that people could support. This just happens to be the one in discussion today. I think that;'s the point... raise the profile, get the money.

Fri Jan 08 2010 1:39PM Report
TheMaelstrom writes:

Actually, I think they went about it in the wrong way. Instead of posting a color, why not tell each women to examine herself properly and post "Examined" instead? Seems like that makes a little more sense.

And I also agree w/ Jon that we should encourage donations.

Fri Jan 08 2010 6:21PM Report
Farem writes:

Actually that's funny that you mention this, My wife just got this on her Facebook account from one of her friends. Looks like it IS a small world after all.

Sat Jan 09 2010 12:04AM Report
Phry writes:

to be honest, the influence that facebook has is kind of scary.. while it is possible to raise awareness perhaps. its also a facilitator for other perhaps, less noble things, for instance.. how many people do you know .. are involved in .. farmville! ...

Sat Jan 09 2010 5:07AM Report
VideoJockey writes:

It's pretty terrible in terms or raising awareness if you ask me. It's not strange enough for people to look it up, and it's certainly not interesting or something that draws attention. I've seen it a number of times in the past couple weeks and figured it was just people being strange. When others asked about it, they didn't get a response. I still would have no idea what it was about (or even that it was about something) if not for stumbling on this article.

We already have a whole month for breast cancer awareness. There's the Susan G. Komen foundation and the pink that goes with it. Hell, even NFL players were wearing pink this year. You'd think breast cancer was the top ailment in the U.S. with all of the publicity it gets. I'm not trying to hate on raising awareness for a serious disease, but  how much more awareness can you raise for breast cancer? It would be much more effective to post a link to the Susan G. Komen foundation versus posting something both cryptic and boring.

Sat Jan 09 2010 9:35AM Report
adog2k1 writes:

Honestly, I think this is a classic internet non-event. Posting a color gives a woman the momentary satisfaction of feeling like they've done something positive without actually requiring anyone to do anything substantively positive. This is like e-mail chain letters. People distribute them because it costs them nothing and they fool themselves into thinking there is a chance of something good happening.

Sat Jan 09 2010 6:37PM Report
Kaelaan21 writes:

Expanding on adog2k1's comment - This is exactly how the concept of distributed problem solving on social networks work. It is based on the selfish goals of a single individual, regardless of the reason, to accomplish a solution to a larger problem. The key is to keep it simple. Which is why the "examine yourself" campaign wouldn't even be article worthy. No one would know about it.

Has anyone been following up on the 10 red balloons challenge? Same premise. With the breast cancer awareness, it's to remind people daily of a real and serious problem.

I do agree that the tiny URL may have been a little more effective, but because it took actual effort, it is less likely someone would copy and paste it. Twitter would have been a better platform since you can attach a hash tag to it such as #boobies or some other eye catching humorous phrase. This would allow people to twit the tiny URL from time to time to the hash that everyone is contributing to.

Sat Jan 09 2010 10:13PM Report
Scot writes:

It is a wonderful example of the pointlessness of social networking that women forgot why they were sending their bra colours to one and all. Facebook turned the support of a decent cause into a fashion statement, wonderful. :D

Mon Jan 11 2010 4:06AM Report
mrcalhou writes:

Your last paragraph summed up my thoughts about it exactly. I was originally thinking that it's pretty stupid to get women to state what color or style their bra is to raise awareness about breast cancer. I'm not going to go that far though because it is a sensitive subject to women. My friend's mom has had breast cancer, all the "older" women in her family have had or has breast cancer. She is practically guaranteed to get breast cancer.

Just raising awareness isn't enough. There is a enough awareness, I would venture that the majority of Americans know what breast cancer is. What needs to be done is a push to develop a practical way to detect it early and get rid of it as fast possible. It is a testament to women and the fight against breast cancer, that it is no longer always deadly, but there can still be improvements in it's treatment. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a knowledgeble molecular and cellular biologist or an oncologist. I don't know what can be done furthur, but I do know that cancers are tricky things to deal with without causing damage to other tissues.


Wed Jan 13 2010 2:10AM Report
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