10.26.2012

"Awareness Month" Awareness Month

I just got some news that, frankly, has rocked my world. And I have to share it with you all, because I cannot let another day go by without actively making a difference in the lives of everyone I know. It's a very tough topic to discuss. Frankly, it's upsetting and, in some cases, disgusting. But I believe in being open and honest, and while I may offend some people, I hope that I can help so many more.

I found out yesterday that I was completely unaware of how many Awareness Months there were.

You can imagine my surprise -- me, Joe Peacock, the most aware guy you know. I read over one thousand blogs, news sites, aggregation sites and other feeds (literally, over a thousand of them). I thought I was immune. I thought I had a very strong grasp on my awareness.

I was so wrong.

I mean, I knew about Breast Cancer Awareness Month being October, since every fucking thing in every fucking store is pink. Yogurt, soda, crackers... You can even buy pink wines with pink ribbons on them. Hell, every NFL team wears pink with their uniform, regardless of how little sense it makes:



And this campaign, as destructive and greedy as its founder has been, has actually been a fantastic success. There's no doubt whatsoever that women across the country are now more diligent about getting breast cancer screening and talking openly about this very serious disease. It has been, without a doubt, a great thing.

But then, I heard about Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And it's in October, too. Only, its color is purple.

It was a cacophony in my head.  How can I be aware of BOTH Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence in the same month? That's TWO things I have to be aware of in a month! That's a lot! And don't even get me started on how horrible pink and purple look together.

But then, I saw someone wearing a shirt yesterday that professed it to be Bullying Awareness Month. It  was very similar to this one:



It's not quite purple, and not quite pink. It's purpink. And it doesn't quite make sense to me. I went to junior high and high school. Trust me -- I'm aware of bullies. It's not news to me. I was bullied all the time as a kid, and when I was finally able to handle myself, I hunted down bullies and taught them lessons.

I think it's really great that discussions about bullying have entered the national dialog, finally. It was really upsetting to me that it wasn't more of a discussion after Columbine, which whether you like it or not was a direct response by two kids to the bullying they experienced daily, without recourse or recompense from faculty, staff and administrators. You know... The people who are supposed to protect them and create an environment where there are solutions to being tormented that don't involve shooting up the school.

But I wasn't aware until someone wearing a shirt around town made me aware that it's Bullying Awareness Month. And that's when I realized, it's not enough to be aware of things. You have to be aware of the Awareness Campaign attached to it, because how else will you know when it's time to wear shirts that call attention not to the issue, but to the fact that YOU are aware of (and involved with) it?

So, I took to Google, and I summarily had my mind blown. I found this list of Awareness Months. I couldn't believe it. It was a slap in the face; a wakeup call. There are SO many awareness months! For example:


Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Bullying Prevention Month
Book Month
Campaign for Healthier Babies Month 
CyberSecurity Awareness Month 
Dental Hygiene Awareness Month 
Domestic Violence Awareness Month 
Down Syndrome Awareness Month 
Filipino American History Month
Fire Prevention Month 
Italian-American Heritage Month
Adoption Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month 
Arts and Health Month
Diabetes Awareness Month
Epilepsy Awareness Month
Nonprofit Awareness Month 
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month 
Prematurity Awareness Month
Political Correctness Awareness Month 
Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month
AIDS Awareness Month 
Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
Lupus Awareness Month
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Rett Syndrome Awareness Month 
Selective Mutism Awareness Month 
Vegetarian Awareness Month

And that's only October.

There are 184 Awareness Month campaigns in that list, and that doesn't even come close to covering the local and statewide awareness campaigns I've seen just where I live. So now, I'm aware of how many Awareness Months there are.

Too fucking many, that's how many.

I didn't even read that list I pasted here, and that's just one month worth of awareness. I can't keep track. It's made me not give a shit. Which, I would think, is antithetical to the purpose of Awareness Months in the first place. Or maybe it's not. Not now, anyway. Maybe now the point isn't so much to make you aware of whatever condition, syndrome or situation it's supposedly the month to be aware of. Maybe now, it's about selling t-shirts and ribbons. Maybe it's about industry.

At first, wearing something like a pink ribbon you made yourself with tool or streamer or other ribbon you can get for a nickel at any craft store was a sign of solidarity and a clever means of getting people to ask about it, so you have the opportunity to discuss it with them and make them aware. But now, it's just "Look at me, I give a shit!" Or, worse, "Look at me, I have a connection to this cause and am using it for attention!"

In the case of bullying and equal rights, I don't understand why it's so important to people to wear shirts about tolerance and acceptance. Why not just, you know, be tolerant and accepting? Why is it so vital to your personal identity that you be seen as tolerant? Why do you care if I know you're tolerant?

Because it's not about your tolerance. It's about fashion. When how you're perceived is more important than how you act, your motives are no longer pure. So yay, you're tolerant and you're very dedicated to making sure how many people know you are. You win at tolerance. Let me know what the trophy looks like when you get it.

In the case of things like Autisim (which long time readers know that I think, in a vast number of cases, is mostly bullshit to begin with): I read your shirt and I see your ribbon. Now I am aware that you know about Autism. I already knew about Autism, so the ribbon and shirt didn't do much more in the way of educating me. But I know that YOU know about it. Maybe you have a kid that's been diagnosed with it. Maybe your nephew or niece has it. And now, I know that's the case.

What now? Do I go get vaccinated? Can I catch it? No? Then why did I need that information? If your kid has Autism, that's your fucking problem. But you're aware, and now I'm aware.

What now?

Well, not much. But there are plenty of shirts to buy if you're affected by Autism. Or Chron's Disease. Or Diabetes. And there's tons of indignance to heap upon anyone who dares to not care about your personal problem.

But I get that it's important to be Aware, and that's why I want to declare November as "Awareness Month" Awareness Month. It's vital that, in November, you be aware of how many Awareness Month campaigns there are, or else you don't care. You're a horrible fucking person. You should eat all your food off the floor because you're an animal who doesn't care about civility. Here's your goddamn ribbon:



Spread the word!