For the past few months, there have been some powerful images circling around the internet depicting scenes of extreme poverty or disaster, while a dozen anonymous onlookers give the horrific scene a thumbs-up. The message is hammered home in the tagline: “Liking isn’t helping. Be a volunteer.”
I’ve seen these images pop up on social media every couple weeks since their appearance in February. Ironically, while Facebook likes may not be directly helping the global poor, it certainly is helping this ad campaign. Without the viral appeal of the images, developed for Crisis Relief Singapore, the call to action would never have been heard.
Contrary to this shrewd marketing campaign’s message, liking something on Facebook, sharing something in an email, or even sending a tweet IS helping. By spreading information, we can start conversations that fuel movements to change the world for the better.
The Canadian Idle No More movement rose to national attention on social media. The 2012 Quebec student protests used Facebook and Twitter to organize marches and peaceful demonstrations. The list goes on.
We now have the ability to share meaningful information – freely, widely, and nearly instantly – in a way never before possible. And often, people are using this ability for good.
In the internet age, we are bombarded with a torrent of information all the time. Furthermore, experts are no longer the only ones getting published. Because anyone can publish an opinion about anything, we’re wary of everything. This is good, so long as readers remain curious, research issues further, and avoid cynicism.
This is where “Liking” can help. As our trust in traditional news sources and brands wanes, we are increasingly relying on our friends and family for honest opinions. More than ever, people trust the opinions of people like themselves.
If you’re passionate about something, your friends will know it’s something worth caring about. So when you like something, or share something, or retweet, that something becomes more trustworthy in the eyes of your friends.
The hard part, of course, is turning awareness and trust into action. Some studies say that people who support causes on social media do it just to feel good about themselves. This activity has been branded “Slacktivism.” Most often, these failed opportunities lack vision and an action plan.
Fortunately for the Fair Trade movement, we’re gaining steam all over Canada. The Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade Campus initiatives are energizing communities and students across the country – all thanks to grassroots support. These efforts are leading to real improvements in the lives of producers and artisans, which is a testament to the conviction of Fair Trade supporters.
At the end of the day, passionate and honest outreach is the best way to grow our cause. If it matters to you, start the conversation. Go where your friends are – even if that just means logging in to Facebook.
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