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Does Social Media Help or Hurt Humanity?

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.


Related Stories:

Somalia is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

Somalia on Verge of Famine

Read more:

Photo credit: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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51 comments

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7:36AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

Both, I'd say.

7:32AM PDT on Sep 4, 2011

I'm with Dianne R.

7:24PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

I took the quiz. Even if just one more friend does, that is one more meal for a child.

11:43PM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

SOCIAL MEDIA is a TOOL. The question is like asking are FORKS good or bad? FORKS are handy while eating but lousy for sitting on.Newspapers are better for lining bird cages or making kites than television news would be.Pencils when jammed in your ear are DANGEROUS! Fish hooks are useful to catch fish and ,like lighted fire crackers,should NOT be put in your pocket. The HOLY BIBLE will choke a horse and water from a firehose will too. How useful a TOOL is ALWAYS depends on the operator.

12:08PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Maybe if some folks would do more than read social media they might get an idea what is really happening in the world. And they might do some fact checking on what they are reading also.

He's to jaded to care?!?! Am I suppose to feel sorry for him? Let him get off his jaded, lazy butt and take an interest in the world.

12:06PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Somalias problems are man made. I believe we interfere in a natural process. We've pushed our electronic world upon peoples who would be better off left to their own devices. They claim its a good thing to bring others into the 21st century but I think not. As you can witness every single day, its created a lot of monsters. We just may be going the way of the Azetecs and Mayans. Everyone, the world over, needs to SLOW DOWN

6:46AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

I don't usually see any serious stuff on FB - which is the reason I dislike it.
Why should I waste my time filtering through all of the bs stuff that Bridget M. describes so well, when I have more important things to do. (Like preventing fracking. And like educating people about the need for rehab facilities and programs for brain injury survivors. Etc.)

3:19AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Some people don't care, but all the more reason why those who do need to get out there, and shouldn't get pessimistic because of the sad attitude of others. Those who don't care about others often don't really care about themselves.

Social media is a great resource for people to get their issue out to people who will respond. And if corrupt powers don't like it because it sometimes undermines their propaganda, then all the more reason why is empowers people.

2:36AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

How can you doubt the role of social media? Care2 is a proof of human interactivity. If you'll consider even the petitions we sign to sustain a charitable cause, then nothing is in vain.

6:35PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Trudy P. I enjoyed your post, especially your comment about troops. It always bothers me to hear that on the news. Like many things in our current culture, it feels impersonal.
FaceBook was not a good experience for me. It was like witnessing a bunch of people who simultaneously crashed a party and were all on their worst behavior. There was tons of profanity, grandstanding, collecting "friends" they never met, annoying and intrusive games...All the people who suppossedly wanted to connect were doing were things online they would be embarrassed to do anywhere else, but we never did interact much.
I think some people use that type of social networking to make themselves feel better. It gives the illusion that they are popular, important, interesting. It's pretend socializing without the encumbrance of having to try so hard or the usual cues to ground you in reality. And floating around in all that unreality makes it hard for a lot of people to come back down and relate to the unpleasantness that exist in everyday life. It is possible to lose touch with your compassion, but that is such a shame.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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