Yesterday was World Humanitarian Day. Creating history of sorts – a social media history to be precise – apparently over one billion people around the world sent out messages over Twitter, Facebook and other platforms, according to organizers of the global event.
It is the United Nations that designated August 19 as World Humanitarian Day to recognize all those who face danger and adversity in order to help others, to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.
The UN, on this day, recognizes the humanitarian aid workers who work every day to help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are.
This year’s campaign “I Was Here” was about doing something good, somewhere, for someone else.
It’s impressive that the campaign inspired and mobilized more than 1 billion messages on social media, which proves once again, the overwhelming reach of social media in today’s world.
While one has to accept that social media is spawning global communities, increasingly widening over common causes, I wonder how connected the virtual faceless, nameless and location less individuals are, despite being part of the collective multitudes, in the real world.
Sitting as they are in the cozy confines of their homes and the virtual anonymity behind their computer screens, how effective are these numbers, when it comes to actually translating the simple act of clicking on and “liking” an online campaign into a real act that makes a difference to an individual’s life or for the society as a whole.
How many of these one billion people, I wonder, actually did something good, somewhere, for someone else.
No, I am not being cynical about the power of social media. But I am not convinced yet, that it can bring about social upheavals. For me, virtual communities connected by social media are all about “trending” and “following” and not about real change – at least not yet.