Does Social Media Help or Hurt Humanity?
Not all of my peers watch the news on TV or read the paper every day, but most of them do check their Facebook… a lot. I’ll be the first to admit that the majority of stuff I share on my wall is the random mobile upload of my baby doing something funny, or wondering out loud why we still have June Gloom in southern California in August. I don’t always expect people to care or to comment, and sometimes even the most pointless or unthoughtful posts get the most response out of people.
So it really disheartens me when I put something I believe to be important out there to those who are considered to be in my (somewhat) inner circle of peers, and I don’t even get as much as a “like.”
Tonight I was eating dinner while my happy, chubby baby sat and played nearby. I saw images on the news of starving families and skeletal babies at the refugee camps in Africa. Stopping mid-bite, I got completely nauseous and couldnít continue eating. Iíve been getting these feelings a lot lately; whenever my daughter is crying and hungry and all I have to do is mix up a bottle for her, I think about how painful it would be if I couldnít do anything at all. Sometimes when Iím really thirsty and I go chug a glass of water, I think about easy it was to get it. And other times, I donít think about these things at all, and I just go about my day forgetting how lucky I am.
But then Iím reminded again. And a few times in the past week Iíve shared some of these things with my friends, only to be met with silence. Is anyone listening? Are they reading and they just donít care? Or are they simply just not responding?
I shared a quiz on my wall that claims for every finished quiz, an anonymous donor will supply the money to feed a child in Africa. Iím not sure if it is true, and Iím not sure the money is going exactly where Iíd like it to go. But it was free for me, and literally took less than five minutes.
It saddened me to see only one friend of mine took the quiz. Again tonight, I posted a note about how I was feeling, how sad the images made me, and how I wanted to do more to help. Nobody responded.
In casual conversation with someone recently, I told them how disheartened I was that not more people took the short quiz. ďEveryone is always looking for a way to help that doesnít involve parting with their money, isnít this a good way?Ē I asked. His response was that he didnít believe the money would actually go anywhere. I said, ďSo what if it doesnít? Itís like two minutes of your day, and what if it DOES help?Ē He said he must just be too jaded to care.
I know that social media platforms such as twitter and facebook fan pages can get the word out on good causes and find the right people who care about their cause, but are my own friends the type of people who are too jaded to simply press ďlikeĒ when I express something heartfelt that means a lot to me? The cynical feelings of my social media peers cause a vicious cycle throwing the pessimism right back at me, and I ask myself, ďWell, whatís the point?Ē
Iím hoping that more people read the posts than those who decide to comment on them, as I know I fall into that category often as well. It seems like every week I see a post from someone who is asking for prayer for their friendís baby who has a brain tumor, or a spouse with cancer, or a fundraiser for a sick puppy in a shelter. It makes me so depressed to be constantly reminded of the pain others are going through, and sometimes I choose to click on the posts to read more, but other times I just canít handle it.
Is social media helping us to be more grateful, humble and aware of our health and good standings? Or is it making us more closed off to feeling because we are getting numb from seeing it in front of our faces everyday? I think what Iím learning is simply this: When something is really important to you, I guess it doesnít mean itís really important to everybody else too. And that includes your social media followers.
Photo credit: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net