It is very inspiring that in a world of daily overdose on hatred and violence that there are so many of us out there that want to provide aid and comfort for those less fortunate. In recent years, the act of being charitable has almost become a trend of our generation. Organizations such as Free the Children and Habitat for Humanity are supported heavily by youth participation, which gives the perception that helping the less fortunate is a ‘cool’ thing to do.
Social media, then, is the prime location for such noble causes to recruit other righteous individuals. Facebook and Twitter have been beneficial forums for exposing millions to a variety of ways that they can make a difference.
However, there is one trend that has formed out of this new wave of technologically savvy do-gooders that I am hesitant to support. These include changing one’s display picture to a picture of a cartoon character for child abuse prevention, or saying in your status where you put your purse to promote breast cancer research. Within minutes, these trends go viral, and before you know it the majority of your online friends have followed the chain.
I whole-heartedly agree that these are worthy endeavors that completely deserve all the publicity they are receiving. However, the question I put forth to you is, what is actually being accomplished? It is simple enough to make a change to one’s profile, but how is this helping to further research or improving dire situations?
The fact is, they don’t. The reason I believe that these movements are so successful is because they consist of simple actions that anyone can do, and subsequently, people feel like they have the ability make a positive impact. Although the intention is honorable, I do not feel that anything productive is being done.
Generally speaking, no money is being generated and no new volunteers are being engaged. All these campaigns essentially accomplish is making people feel better about themselves for doing their good deed of the day.
Now, this is not to say awareness is not a beneficial project to pursue. For example, on November 30, Free the Children will be conducting their annual vow of silence. Anyone can participate in this venture, for which you “stand in solidarity with children who are silenced by poverty, disease and exploitation.”
This project brings awareness to a noble cause through action. The difference between this and the above-noted internet campaigns is that the Vow of Silence not only raises money for charity, it also teaches the participants a valuable lesson about lacking the means to speak out against injustice. Rather than a quick click of a mouse, this project actually makes a significant impact.
Social media is a wonderful tool for exposure and I am not implying that there is not a beneficial place for it in charitable causes. A few months ago, one of my friends was just as frustrated as I am with the constant bombardment of Facebook awareness campaigns and decided to take action. He vowed on his Facebook to give one dollar to charity for every person who ‘liked’ his status. In the end, he received 73 likes, and now a noble organization is reaping the benefits. In my opinion, this was an ingenious act of kindness, for he turned around an unproductive use of technology and made it into something worthy.
At the end of the day, getting the word out there is not something to be discouraged. It is very commendable to want to make a difference. However, would it not make more sense to put your efforts towards something more productive? So, dear readers, I send out a challenge to you. Whether you follow in the footsteps of my friend or you create your own innovate way to benefit an honourable cause, take productive action towards making this world a better place.