Clicking 'Like' on Facebook does not make you a humanitarian.
Or so a thread I got involved with last week said. I tend to agree. At least in part. Kony2012, the now viral doco calling for the arrest of Joseph Kony, has been getting alot of flack. Some people complain that the charity behind it spends too much on administration and so they give them nothing. Some people object that part of the campaign calls for fly-posting and so they do nothing. Many I am sure won't bother to sit through a 30min youtube clip - the internet has trashed our attention spans. Actually, I usually don't myself, but this time I did, and so should you, if you haven't already. If you didn't know, Joseph Kony, according to some authorities, is the world's most wanted man.
So what do you do when a clip like that comes your way? Ignore it? Watch it? Share it? Give to the charity? Sign the petition? Email a politician? Join a demonstration?
I am reminded of being constantly harangued by beggars when I lived in London. It was known that some did it as a fulltime job, dressing and acting the part and earned more than I did. But which were conmen and which were worthy? An old Bible teacher of mine had great advice: "You will find that if you ignore pleas for help, there will be a hardening of your heart, increasing each time. So when you travel, carry a pocketful of low denomination coins and give to everyone who asks you." I guess that the worthy would benefit from a few pence, whereas the professionals wouldn't cover their expenses. So can we apply this to social media? Do we even care? Well, if a clip like Kony2012 drops into your newsfeed, watch it. Consider donating a few bucks to the charity. Research them first if you like. Sign the pledge. At least share the clip with friends - if you do nothing more, maybe some of them will.
Kony2012 is about raising awareness, and as more people have joined the call for action, the US government has been moved to act where it had refused before. So the internet campaign is working, actually making a real difference in the world. Does clicking 'Like' make you a humanitarian? Not really. But clicking 'share' just might. What do you think?