Haiti needs our help, not just our tweets

14Jan10

Haiti Needs Our Help (Image found on Google News site)

Haiti needs our help!  If you’ve seen the images and heard the stories I’m sure you’re just as touched by this tragedy as I am.  I’ve been counting my lucky stars for all that I have and have been praying for those affected.

It’s only been 48 hours since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti and already my inbox is flooded with well-intentioned emails encouraging me to help those devastated in this tragedy.  I’m sure you all are experiencing the same – whether it be a flood of emails, tweets or Facebook groups.  Social media is good that way – encouraging action and spreading awareness – but most people will forward the message along but not much more to help the cause.  In this post I challenge you to go offline and do something to help a cause.  To be a good example (because I’m guilty of this too you know) I’ve picked helping the Haitian Relief.

Slacktivism is a term used to describe those people who desire to do good but slack off in terms of their own contributions.  And if you don’t think that it’s prevalent in our society, I urge you log into your Facebook account and check out all the causes you and your friends have “friended” and ask yourself – what have I done offline to help these causes?  If you haven’t done anything more than talk about helping, you’re not alone.  I too have noticed all the causes I’m supporting virtually and realized the gap in the numbers that I’m supporting offline.

Evgeny Morozov, a researcher and blogger who works on the political effects of the Internet, has often expressed skepticism about the Internet’s ability to provoke social change saying,

[Slacktivism is] feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact. It gives those who participate in “slacktivist” campaigns an illusion of having a meaningful impact on the world without demanding anything more than joining a Facebook group.

The way I see it, social media cannot impact social change directly (although it’s certainly good at raising awareness to key issues).  The truth of the matter is, without offline activity nothing will get done.  What’s the point of joining another Facebook group if you aren’t going to help in some way?

Yes it’s true – I can’t say that I didn’t feel great when I was tweeting about all the ways available for all of us to help those in Haiti…but then it dawned on me: who am I to encourage other people if I have not done anything to help?  So I got off my proverbial a$$ and got to work:

  1. I texted a donation to Rogers by texting “HELP” to 1291.  Yup it’s only $5 but it’s an easy way to start doing something.
  2. I bought a ticket to the GenYTO Haitian relief fundraiser on Feb 11.  It’s a small step to bring hope and help to a country that needs so much.

Through those two actions, though small, have already put me on the path away from slacktivism and I feel damn good about it. 🙂

So this is my action item to all that read this blog: Pick one cause you hold dear to your heart (perhaps it’s one you support via Facebook group or a cause you’ve emailed around to colleagues at the office) and do something offline to support them. Donate your time, your money, your wisdom.  Together we can really make a difference.

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One Response to “Haiti needs our help, not just our tweets”

  1. At the risk of being unpopular I’m gonna share my thoughts….WTF is up with all this love for Haiti! 6 weeks ago, if someone asked what you thought about Haiti most people would have told you Haiti was a shit hole, don’t visit there unless you have a death wish! Now, since the earthquake, I am supposed to love Haiti and send them all my money! I am calling bullshit! What’s happening here is governments are realizing that disasters are a better way to get buy in from the people than war. The end results are the same. big contracts are handed out to multinational corporations in order to “rebuild” after the disaster/war. With Haiti, governments do not need to fund anything, the people of Canada seem to be more than happy to pay for it! I’m taking a stance and saying F U Haiti. You will be getting no more of my money!


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