I’m sure everyone has seen them — the red and pink equal signs that many have been sporting as a profile picture on social media.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against two cases related to same-sex marriage. In response, millions of people changed their profile pictures and cover photos to express their support of marriage equality. According to statistics released by Facebook, there was a surge of profile picture changes on March 26 — 2.7 million more than the previous Tuesday.
Equally as viral was the disdain expressed by many people — some who support marriage equality, some who don’t — that changing your profile picture was “slacktivism.” It’s pointless and won›t change the ruling. It›s lazy and dumb.
Congratulations. You’ve missed the point.
It isn’t about changing the judges’ minds or trying to be an activist. It’s about raising awareness and showing solidarity and support for equality among human beings.
Sporting a pink ribbon for breast cancer doesn’t make the disease go away, but it does get people talking about it.
In the same way, the key to changing the tide of our culture is to begin the discussion. Show support in the face of the naysayers and the bigots.
It’s fairly cynical to assume that someone changing their profile picture hasn’t supported LGBTQA rights in any other way. And so what if that is all they’ve done? What if the only thing all those people have done to support marriage equality is change their profile photo?
This is the biggest civil rights issue our generation has seen, and probably will see. The most beautiful aspect of social media (and sometimes, maybe the worst aspect) is that everyone’s voice has the chance to be heard.
I changed my profile picture last week, and in doing so, I let every single one of my followers and friends know where I stand on the issue. I let them know that none of us have the right to dictate to millions of men and women whom they should love. I know my small token of support was appreciated by many of my gay friends — they told me so.
Every small gesture can make a big difference, both in our culture and in the life of an individual.
Don’t be a curmudgeon and bemoan the viral equal sign meme as being useless. Really, it is anything but.
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