The task, if you choose to accept it, could prove virtually impossible for the addicted and a challenge for even the casual user – give up Facebook and Twitter for one day.
It’s the latest campaign, however unusual, to raise awareness and dollars for a cause in an era in which people are checking their online accounts at all times of the day.
Autism charities around the world have joined forces to ask online users to give up social networking websites on Nov. 1 as a way to experience how difficult it is for those with the disorder to communicate socially.
Users of Facebook and Twitter may have started noticing their friends and followers signing online petitions or taking up causes as more and more non-profit groups tap the social-network realm to engage younger people.
The Communication Shutdown campaign asks users to go one step further: Shut it all off for the day.
Autism groups are raising funds through selling an application to users that will display a shutdown badge on their profile pictures on Nov. 1. This will signal that they have chosen to forgo social media for the day.
Checking your account, also known as cheating, is entirely up to you.
“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream. People will have some idea of what this feels like when they take part in Communication Shutdown,” Temple Grandin, an autism advocate and one of the world’s leading authorities on animal behaviour, said in a release.
The program was initiated by a nonprofit organization in Australia, and comes on the heels of other online campaigns that have raised awareness and funds for different types of cancer and disaster-relief in countries like Haiti and Pakistan. Those who sign up will be making donations to organizations in their own country.
Christine Thornton Wiener of Giant Steps in Illinois, a group that provides education and therapeutic programs for autistic students, said the money will allow the non-profit organization to expand its program to more young people. In the past, fundraising has involved reaching out to private businesses, hosting dinners and running auctions, she said. Ms. Thornton Wiener said she doesn’t have a dollar goal in mind for this campaign because it’s never been tried before.
“I think it’s building gradually. And I think it’s going to be amazing by the fourth week [of October],” she said.
Ms. Thornton Wiener may not be a Facebook or Twitter user, but she said she understands how powerful social networking can be.
“As an autism advocate and as an aunt of a child with autism, I think it’s a really beautiful way to express solidarity with individuals with autism,” she said. “It’s a simple way, but it’s very impactful.”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Globe and Mail in Toronto:
Posted by BA Haller at 5:41 PM