Social media and slactivism
A disclaimer: I am very, very guilty of all the things I’m about to complain about. I would be surprised to meet a person that wasn’t.
Life as a uni student is Sydney is shaped by the way we interact on social media. It’s amazing. I am Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat obsessed. Sure, people complain about people taking too many photos and not enjoying real time, but I always thought what’s the harm? If you can justify the photos you take, the posts you write and the snaps you send as being for you, and not for anyone else, what exactly is wrong with living a life on social media?
Justified or no, the content we produce and the way we interact on social media creates a rose-coloured-glasses approach. I don’t mean the whole ‘a person can be completely different on social media’ idea, although that is still a problem for lots of people. I mean the value that people place on those interactions.
Story time: two weeks ago I signed up for the Act for Peace Ration Challenge (which will be in another post next week if you want to read about it). It’s a good cause, the money raised going to help Syrian refugees fund the food rations, education and healthcare they desperately need. All while I live on the exact same rations they get for a week.
Seems simple right? All I had to do was post the link to my donations page on Facebook, and people interested in the cause would see it and be able to put some money in.
My first post got an overwhelming amount of support. Likes and love reacts came in from lots of people that were friends of mine on Facebook, but on that first night only a few people donated. After every notification of a like on that post, I would check the page. Surely people didn’t think that by reacting positively to that post they would actually be doing something for the cause?
Another disclaimer: I am absolutely NOT saying everyone should have been donating to this. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and to be honest I have done exactly the same thing – love reacting to a charity drive for an issue a friend is passionate about, but not even putting in $5. This is about me realising that 1 like does not equal 1 dollar – in fact it doesn’t really equate to anything at all.
Likes are vacant and social media is lying to you. I don’t know why I had to have this experience to learn this lesson, but guess what – if you want to change something, you’re still going to have to actually get up and do something about it.
In saying that, charity definitely is not dead – just a little harder to reach than liking something on Facebook. Since that first post a couple of weeks ago, I’ve managed to raise almost $600 which I think is pretty amazing. Huge thank you and good karma for all the generous people who put money in to a cause that means so much to me.
The life lesson? As easily as social media brings the world to us, we still actually have to get up and go make a difference. Liking or sharing a post on Facebook doesn’t make you a better person. And honestly, the more you believe in it, the harder it’s going to be for you to actually make a difference.