Quick to catch onto the newest social media trend, multiple news outlets reported that this new viral image is a recolored version of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) organization's normal logo. The HRC is the nation's largest advocacy group for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities. Typically, the group’s logo is a yellow equal sign set on a blue background. However, with the U.S. Supreme Court currently hearing arguments and preparing to decide the fate of two different ground-breaking cases (Proposition 8 and DOMA), the Human Rights Campaign changed their logo to red, the color of love, in the hopes of raising awareness on the issue of marriage equality. The group also encouraged supporters to wear red on the days the Supreme Court heard arguments about these cases.
The Huffington Post reports:
“Make sure you wear red to show your support for marriage equality. And make your Facebook profile red too!" the HRC told its over 1 million Facebook followers. By Tuesday afternoon, its post had been shared over 45,000 times and had received over 13,000 "likes."
The image soon began to swiftly take over Facebook, especially after celebrities like George Takei shared the image. A CNN blogger has reported that "in total, according to Fred Saiz, vice president of communication for the gay-rights organization, the image has been seen by approximately 10 million people on Facebook alone."
With so many people sharing and adopting the image, however, chances are that number is still climbing. Additionally, those numbers do not include the number of memes and branded images that have been made and used to convey the same message, but in a more unique way; for example, a Grumpy Cat meme in support of marriage equality has overtaken a number of profile pics and status updates. Even “Doctor Who” fans found a way to add a twist to the logo, making the equal sign look like the outline of a Dalek.
Coincidentally, the image went viral just over a year after Invisible Children Inc.’s “Kony 2012” video went viral; in a similar fashion, no one at Invisible Children expected the video to become as popular as it did, and, just like the HRC, the organization’s website crashed.
Both the logo and the video share a common goal of raising awareness on what many consider an important human rights issue.
So far, though, the backlash against the Human Rights Campaign has been minimal and almost non-existent, especially when compared to the criticisms of “Kony 2012.” My personal theory is that the issue of marriage equality does not have the same gray areas that can be found within the issues that Invisible Children, Inc. deals with. Put simply, while dealing with and documenting the complex history of an African war-zone and the lives of war victims can be tricky and easily handled incorrectly, in the case for marriage equality, most people either support marriage equality, or they don’t.
But more importantly, as the image remains a topic of focus, we have to ask: is this digital outcry the best way for supporters to rally in favor of the cause? Or is this just another example of yet more slacktivism in the digital age?
I personally have talked about slacktivism many times in the past, and have repeatedly stated that with so much of daily life taking place online, slacktivism has a place in campaigns right alongside meaningful action. In other words, clicking a mouse a few times cannot be the full extent of what one does to help a cause, but it's certainly becoming an important part of the process.
In this case, I find this “slacktivism,” if you want to call it that, acceptable. The Supreme Court is already hearing arguments about the issue; protesters are outside of their building as I type. In this case, the fact that social media sites are going red is simply the next logical step in the process. With such a massive case underway in the U.S. judicial system, it makes complete sense that the public would want to share their support and demonstrate exactly which side of the issue they fall on. Plus, as demonstrated by this writer, the red logos could be a good way to begin a dialogue among supporters and anyone they know who is unsure about or outright opposes gay marriage.
As for the fate of the two cases that began this entire unintentional viral campaign, nothing is set in stone, and no one can predict just what the Supreme Court will ultimately say on the matter. All that we know is that the court's ruling will greatly affect any future legal battles the LGTB community will face.
In the meantime, however, all of this red, a sign that many people are publically and proudly announcing which side of the issue they’re, on is certainly a beautiful sight to see.