Social Media Saving Lives!

Intro

As evidenced by everyone’s initial thoughts on social media, there is a spectrum of uses and opinions on the value of social media. Many people discuss the impact of cyber bullying, depression from constantly comparing yourself to others, and lack of connecting offline with people. The benefits of social media are often overlooked, it’s about time we give a little love and shed some light on how social media has brought people together to literally save lives.

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Broad Reach of Social Media

The “one to many” aspect of social media (internet, facebook, blogs, etc.) allows you to easily reach a large audience. This is especially beneficial for fundraising and the ability to reach a broad and immense group with much less effort. I fundraised (twice) for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and I was shocked how easy it was to post my facebook status with links to my donation. People I hadn’t spoken to in decades donated to my walking team. I’ve also been on the receiving end of blind copied fundraising request emails sent to only god knows how many people. Social media allows you to “cast a wide net” and fundraise without having to personally ask each person. Sometimes it feels like cheating or the easy way out but in my mind charity fundraising has the right to be a little shameless!

 

Go Fund Me: Peer Pressure & Leaps of Faith

While Go Fund Me isn’t exclusive to charities and righteous causes as evidenced by “Help James Record His Next Album” fundraising, it is the world’s #1 fundraising site. By capitalizing on social media, it is able to execute “crowdfunding”. Countless people have been able to raise money for medical bills, living expenses while undergoing treatment, and final family vacations for the terminally ill. You can look at various success stories here.

pan handling.jpgSo why does Go Fund Me work? The cynic in me thinks about all the fraud that must be going on. Do people really believe all the stories floating around on the internet? Absolutely not! Well, at least I hope not… A major draw of crowdfunding is the friend referrals. If someone has trustworthy friends sending links or posting about their cousins/friends/boyfriends’s family then people are likely to believe the fundraising story.

Another key success factor is peer pressure. Go Fund Me includes a feed with recent donations and donor names. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I scanned down to see how much my friends had given to see what about is appropriate for the cause. It’s a form of peer pressure to give and to give a certain amount. Just like social media, peer pressure doesn’t always have to have a negative connotation.

 

Benefits of Gamification

Anytime something can be turned into a game it increases support exponentially. How could anyone forget the 2014 summer of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Something that started at BC turned into a viral social media fundraising event. By passing on the challenge of dumping a bucket of ice over your head, a disease that was often only referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and raised over $220M. It created a network that everyone was excited to be a part of including celebrities and professional athletes. Not only did it build a network but also it was entertaining to watch your friends dump a bucket of water over your head. Every “drop in the bucket” truly made a difference. As a result of the money raised from Ice Bucket Challenge, researchers were able to identify a new ALS gene to target for future treatmentJulien.jpg.

 

Blogging

This section is a bit more of a stretch. Does blogging save lives? No. Does blogging raise awareness and help people understand the struggles that people are living through? Yes. Can this increased awareness translate into fundraising and lobbying for benefits? Yes.

I personally follow one blog that falls into this category. I’m fortunate enough to share my birthday with the blogger of Lung Story Short. Rima highlights her journey to a double lung transplant. It shares what her daily life with cystic fibrosis is really like. Take a read, but spoiler alert: she’s a much better blogger than I am. If you have free time on your hands, check out the instagram and twitter handle too.

 

Conclusion

“With great power comes great responsibility”. Social media has to power to instantly connect one person to hundreds/thousands/millions of people. We can choose to use this power for evil or for good. Raising awareness, capital, and support for those in need literally has the capability to save lives. If you can’t afford to donate money then you should at least think about sharing a donation link or a story. Passing the word around can get the story into the right hands to help. Be shameless, use your network to save lives.pay it forward.jpg

3 comments

  1. cattybradley · ·

    I like the positivity of this post – looking into the upside rather than the downside of social media. I think you are spot on with your observations of Go Fund Me. I usually only click on the link if a good friend/family member posted it on Facebook because that legitimizes the page for me.

  2. dabettervetter · ·

    It is interesting how GoFundMe and crowdfunding is a direct parallel to the concept of crowdsourcing to solve a problem. Both reach out into a mix of friends, family, and strangers to solve a problem. The network used by both is a direct result of the breath of the social and digital networks that we are all a part of today. Even just raising awareness can be done through the crowd mentality!

  3. Especially as someone who’s been doing a lot of social media bashing in my recent blogs, I really enjoyed the post and the perspective check it brought.

    Lung story short looked very powerful but was delivered in a cute way. I also follow a Facebook page called Driving Miss Norma (https://www.facebook.com/DrivingMissNorma/) that delivers a powerful message about positivity and self-improvement. It genuinely cheers me up and has made me feel better each day.

    I know there’s been lots of research done on the effects of social media on our brains, I’d be curious to see how we react neurologically to posts like these and the feeling that we’re connecting with others to make a significant impact.

    Great topic and post — thanks for sharing it with us!

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