Social Media for Social Good in 2012


“My life, my family's life, was changed because people helped us when we were hungry. I believe that people WANT to do good - but many times they just don't know how. My goal is to always showcase easy ways, every day ways, that people can be a part of change.”

“I didn't come to India for a free curry,” my friend Eden wrote in recent a blog post. Writing between visits to slums where children lived in conditions that threatened their health and their futures, she was there to document what she saw with World Vision Australia. To be a social media voice for a social good.

Eden Riley, who writes at Edenland, also went to Niger in April. “I couldn't actually believe I'd been offered to go to Africa in the first place... I struck up a relationship with World Vision Australia at a blog conference, introduced myself, and put their ads in my sidebar for free. It grew from there.”

For Eden it was an opportunity to “dialogue genuinely,” as Justine above so aptly puts it, about the West African food crisis.

Eden says,

For the very first time ever, I used my blog and my voice very, very deliberately, to hopefully reach as many people as I possibly could. I had to write my posts in a way that was big and bold and engaging and interesting.  People are bored with famine and starving and poverty. The beauty about a blog is, it's so personal that I could narrow down the stories and put myself in there. I used myself as an example of white western ignorance.

Laura Tremaine of Hollywood Housewife, a blogger here in Los Angeles, went to Sri Lanka with World Vision in August. And like Eden, she wrote in a way I find quite unique to the blogosphere.
There is an intimacy and a candidness that journalism doesn’t necessarily allow but that blogging about social good makes possible. She states:

I didn’t come home from Sri Lanka brokenhearted.  I know I’m not supposed to say that.  I know that I should tell you how hard it was to meet the poorest of the Sri Lankan nation, how my soul melted into a puddle at the sight of their anguish and how I wanted to come home and sell all of my earthly possessions.

But that is not how I felt...

I know my time in Sri Lanka was only the tiniest glimpse of third world poverty.  I know that there are parts of the world - just down my street in Hollywood, in fact - where there is deep despair.  Where it feels like nothing can be done, so great are the Somethings to be done... I want you to know that I fully expected to cry out for all who are hurting - and I could, for every nation - but instead was met with inspiration.

It didn’t feel like walking around with your head in your hands saying What To Do, What To Do.

It felt like This Is What To Do.  So I did.

And so we must do.

As Krishann Briscoe of His Mrs. Her Mr. wrote the other day, “We have the ability to give of ourselves – of our hearts today and the next day and every day after.”

Heidi encourages bloggers to “start writing now. Don't wait for opportunities to come to you. Pick a charity and write about it. Pick a cause and write about it. Once a week or once a month feature a charity or cause. At the most basic level, charities need us raising awareness.”

“If you don't have a personal connection you won't feel the need to keep tirelessly talking about it," Dresden advises. "Get to know a handful of organizations that work with causes important to you and reach out to them often offering help. Help can be as simple as asking, is there anything that I may share for you across my social networks?”

Two years ago, in The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that social media would not lead to social change in the way many believed it would. Two years later, I think in many ways Gladwell was mistaken. We have seen repeated examples of the extraordinary power of Twitter, of Facebook and the blogosphere. We have at our fingertips tools that are often free or nearly so. And we go to work, often for free or nearly so, blogging for the greater good - be it a grass roots fundraiser or the race for the presidency.

One click, one post, one tweet, one hashtag at a time.

Just a hero. Just a reporter. Just a life saver. Just a blogger.


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