One of the things I love the most about social media is how it acts as a self-curating feed of what is going on in the world. While many are bemoaning the coming demise of Google Reader, I really haven’t used the popular RSS reader much in months. Rather than going to my own self-curated list of blogs to which I subscribe, I find that both Twitter and Facebook do a better job of feeding me an ever flowing feed of great content. As I log on to Facebook I am presented with not only the content I like and want, but also a lot of great content that others are sharing. And I’m often surprised at how certain themes present themselves from a wide variety of sources.
One of the other things I love about social media is not only how it can help businesses, but also is a great vehicle for spreading the word about nonprofits and the social good they are doing and seek to do. The word of mouth, viral nature of people sharing great content about social good amazes and inspires me.
Recently I logged on and was presented with a few items from different sources that really struck me because of the common theme, despite the seeming randomness.
First I saw that my friend Constance Rhodes, who runs FINDINGbalance, a nonprofit that deals with eating disorders and body image, had posted a video for a new song she had recorded. Turns out the song, More Than a Number, was recorded as part of a partnership with the relief organization, Compassion International. I’d never really noticed the stark contrast between people obsessing over weight and body image as compared to those around the world, who don’t even know where their next meal will come from. As Constance says on her site:
You are more than a number. So is a hungry child. Americans spend $62 billion dollars/yr. on diets. Meanwhile, 6 million children will die of starvation. Diets don’t work. Feeding hungry children does.
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These two organizations are teaming up to do something about the very real problem of world hunger. You can read about the story behind this video on Constance’s blog.
For $1.26 a day – less than the cost of a Diet Coke – you can release a child from poverty. Children sponsored through Compassion are protected from being sold into the sex-slave trade. They receive medical care, have their schooling paid for, and are plugged into a Christian community that supports not only the child but the child’s family too. Basically, when you sponsor a child, you help them eat well and live free.
After watching the video of this wonderful song, something else passed through my news feed that grabbed my attention: the premiere of a new film, A Place at the Table. The problem of hunger isn’t just one that exists in third world nations; it’s an issue here in the U.S. as well. This film highlights the problem, noting that 50-million Americans, including one in every four children, are food insecure, meaning that they don’t know where their next meal will come from.
And then another film popped up in my feed, Hungry for Change, once again addressing many of the issues related to the dieting and weight loss industries.
All of these things were in my Facebook newsfeed over the course of a few days, and all of them caught my eye. All of them made me think.
The interesting thing is that here I sit in the comfort of my warm home, with a full belly. Even when money is tight, I don’t have to worry about my next meal. And yet my social channels can deliver information about these great causes and resources directly to me. And I can do something.
I can watch. I can learn. And I can take action. The least I can do is share this information with others and help spread the word. And perhaps I can donate money to these and other causes that deal with such pressing issues.
I love how social media can confront me with the issues and perhaps drive me to action, even if it’s only a form of slacktivism. Poverty and hunger, both here and abroad, have been a concern of mine for years. As the father of three kids, one of whom is a daughter, I’m also very concerned with issues related to body image and eating disorders. Additionally, I don’t believe that the answer is just to throw money at problems like these. Money is needed, but even more so, we need a shift in our culture and thinking. Until that happens, all the money in the world will only be a band aid.
Social media has the ability to help bring about change, and that includes changes in how we think; changes to our deepest cultural issues. Whether we act as businesses, or as individuals, we can do something. That’s why I was excited when my client Meghan Young approached me about using her restaurant to help battle hunger in our city, and she partnered with a local organization, The Power Packs Project. Most of what we did to promote the program was via social media. And it was a success.
So go ahead, continue to use social media as you have been. Continue to be social. But pay closer attention to what comes through your feed. And be more deliberate about curating and sharing content that is meaningful and has the ability to bring about change.
What causes have come to your attention through the world of social media? How have you used your social channels and influence to share the causes that are meaningful to you?