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Why have giraffes taken over Facebook?


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If you’ve spent any amount of time on Facebook over the past few days, you’ve probably noticed that quite a number of your friends have been changing their profile pictures to a giraffe. Let the records show that they aren’t some kind of magical animagus like Professor McGonagall; instead, it is a fascinating social trend that appears to have spread like wildfire.

GiraffeSocial media trends similar to this, which go by the name of so-called “pictivism”, tend to come and go. There was a time when Facebookers were changing their profile picture to their favourite childhood cartoon, in an attempt to raise awareness of child abuse. There was a time when people changed their photo to their celebrity look-alike, and there was a time when people added a pink ribbon to their profile to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Whilst pictivism is largely there to raise awareness of a specific cause, it often does little more than baffle people; naturally, I had no idea why people were suddenly morphing into Bob The Builder. Facebook campaigns like this must do more than simply request a minor change – we need to educate people, rather than take passive action.

The giraffe phenomenon is, of course, slightly different. It appears to be “a bit of fun” rather than serving any formal purpose. Here’s the message I received from a friend:

“I've had to change my profile picture to a giraffe. I tried to answer a riddle and got it wrong. Try the great giraffe challenge. The deal is, I give you a riddle, if you get it right you get to keep your profile picture, you get it wrong and you change your profile picture for the next 3 days. MESSAGE ME ONLY SO YOU DON'T GIVE AWAY THE ANSWER!!! RIDDLE: 3:00am, the doorbell rings and you wake up, unexpected visitors, it's your parents and they are there for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?”

Essentially, someone will have this message as their status, or it will be sent through private message directly to you. If you answer the riddle correctly: congratulations. If you get it wrong, then you must change your profile picture to a giraffe for a week. And that’s the last you’ll hear of it.

As far as I can tell, the two accepted answers to the giraffe riddle are: “the door” or “your eyes”. It isn’t one of the breakfast delicacies like the riddle would lead you to believe.

There’s been a surprising amount of conflict between people discussing the “correct” answer. Whilst some people have been looking into the grammatical construction of the sentence to defend their answer, others have been slightly more adventurous.

Here’s an answer from GreyWolf62. Unfortunately, he was unfriended for giving this response...

“I answered that your mind was first awakened from REM sleep, at which point your ears had to wake up and send your brain a signal that you were hearing a bell and not sleeping. Then, most people either instinctively yawn, or retract their eyelids to expose their pupils. Others instinctively reach for our gun. Once ascertaining that it is your parents, you would either open the door or the wine, depending on which one you like most.”

And that’s that.

“Why a giraffe?” I hear you ask.

Your guess is as good as mine.

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