“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
If Anne Frank had been allowed to stay with us in this plane of existence, she would have been turning 82 this year. Her words come down to us as she wrote them while hiding from Nazis. Imagine what she would have thought of things like Twitter and Facebook! Imagine her desire to save the world flourishing with the speed of the internet.
Cai’s quote was well chosen.
You’ve got the whole world in your hands
When you access Twitter or Facebook or the online world in general, you can reach out to the world. You can follow protests in Iran and Egypt while monitoring rescue efforts in New Zealand. You can get first-hand accounts of the unfolding tragedies in Libya and Yemen while explaining to someone in Puerto Rico why Anchorman is really a great movie. Are we already taking this for granted?
Social Networking Can Beget Social Helping
About a month ago, Geoff Livingston wrote a post about what the Social Web could actually be like. It’s hard not to feel inspired and motivated after reading a post like that. Making a real difference in the world is possible every day, every time you sign into an account.
And yet, it’s kind of like the Garden of Eden, isn’t it? We are given this huge opportunity to change everything, and all we have to do is avoid a few things. Avoid pointless banter most of the time. Avoid virtual fisticuffs. Avoid poisonous talk. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? But the great temptation is too much, still, for a lot of people, as Olivier Blanchard illustrates in his post, “The Occasional Ugliness of the Social Web.” As easy as it is to spread the good, it is, clearly, just as easy to spread the bad.
Is this real life?
Maybe we are starting to think of people as just names on a page, and that’s people we know and maybe even love. What about all of those people in Libya? They have names and lives. What about all of those people from Sendai? They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and cousins, just like we are. But maybe everyone is starting to seem a little less real as we all get more digital. Maybe it’s easy enough to ignore certain hashtags, like #prayforJapan or #care4Japan and instead focus on Rebecca Black. Maybe it’s easy to flush out news that we feel we can’t do anything about. Maybe the very thing that can help us change the world is also convincing us that we can’t do anything or don’t need to do anything.
Five ways to change the world with 9 fingers tied behind your back
How absurdly easy is it to make a difference? Here are five things you can do (I’m not kidding) with 1 finger.
1. Click the retweet button to spread the word about a good cause
2. Click a button to “like” a cause page
3. Click a retweet button on a post about an important issue
4. If you use the Facebook social graph, click like on a news story to send it to your Facebook feed
5. Click a “donate” button
What if you allotted 20 minutes a week to trying to improve the world? Let’s say that’s 4 minutes added to your morning routine before you head to work each day, or 4 minutes out of the day before you hit the sack, just for five days out of the week. How much could you get done? It starts to seem kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?
What good does all of that do?
I hear you. I hear your doubt. How does a “like”, a thumbs up icon, change the world? It’s just you, after all. But it’s not really just you, is it? Because when you are in the online world, everything positive that you do is like lighting a little candle. Someone else sees it and they light their own little candle. Now someone sees two candles going and they think, “Huh, that’s pretty interesting.” And that fire can spread in the wink of an eye. People like to see good things (despite what the media seems to think). We like to see people doing great things. And guess what? We like to help.
But if we all sit back and say, “Well, my tweeting that post, my clicking that button, that won’t do anything,” what will happen? There will be no light. There will be no wildfire of change and good. Can we risk that? Can we risk that now, with the power to make a difference delivered to us 24/7, right at the tips of our fingers?
You don’t need to wait to change the world. Now is your time to shine. Let’s make a difference, one tweet, one like, one click at a time.
This post is part of the #usblogs challenge for the weekend of 3/26. My sincere appreciation to Tom Moradpour and the participants for accepting my topic recommendation!