Global tragedies require more than a tweet to fix


Graphic by Sarah Morgan

Jack Bartlett

It seems like every day, without fail, a new tragedy floods our social media feeds. Stories about the war in Yemen, Flint’s lead-polluted water, or the Amazon rainforest on fire loom over us. But then, skip to the next week. Where’s the outrage? Where are the people preaching about ‘saving the rainforest’? 

The world of social media has moved on to the next ‘pressing’ issue. Nothing changed, nothing done, except maybe a GoFundMe page that raised, on the high end, a couple of hundred dollars. The truth of the matter is that nobody really cares––their anger is spread so thinly that it amounts to almost nothing. 

To be perfectly clear, I’m not attacking activism as a whole. If you see a problem in the world and do everything you can to fix it, you’re an incredible person. Nothing can get solved if people don’t acknowledge the problem, so spreading the word is a crucial step. However, the keyword is step. It’s the first step, but far from the last. You can donate money, but you can also lobby the government to help, attend protests and rallies for the cause, and organize those movements in your neighborhood. 

The problem is that our daily lives are so bloated with modern amenities that we never have to go out of our way to get something we want. Why take time out of our day to send out messages or rally your friends and family to a cause when you’ve got Instagram just a tap away and hundreds of followers you can spread your chosen message to.

Nobody is immune to that lack of effort, myself included. I don’t often go out and actively make my voice heard on any subject. I’ve got as warped a sense of fun as anyone else, so I know I’m informed when I say that all this saturated content, all these infinite streams of blue light shining into our brains is stopping us from going out and making a real difference. 

Despite my complaining about all this, I don’t resent the people who post these sorts of things. Our world is overflowing with tragedies to comment on, so many that we have no choice but to address them rapid-fire style, one after the other. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t chip away at my hope for humanity. But I’m proud to say I’ve got some aspiration left, some confidence that we can change this around. 

If you’re looking for my advice, I’d say that it really doesn’t take much to make a difference. Pick an issue. Choose the one you care about the most. Mine is the Amazon burning. Spend a few minutes online, googling things about that issue. Look specifically for charities, or ways you can help. It may not seem like much, but any small action makes an impact. •