The strength of a community measured in shares

Do you remember the ice bucket challenge? In the year 2014, lots of people, (both normal people and famous people) were dumping buckets of icy cold water on their heads, videotaping it, and sharing on social media. Do you remember why they were doing this? I had to google it. I remembered it was to raise money for something important, but the cause was…. ALS. Of course. They were dumping buckets of cold water on their heads to raise money for ALS.

And, women specifically, do you remember receiving a Facebook message somewhere around 2010 asking you to post the colour of your bra as your status to raise awareness of breast cancer? And forward the message to only women? Did you participate? Did you forward the message? Was anybody unaware of breast cancer, and, because of this campaign, became aware of breast cancer?

There is something kind of self-indulgent about publicly helping on social media, but it can also be incredibly powerful for a cause. In the case of the ice bucket challenge, it was incredibly effective. This press release from the ALS Association describes just how much was accomplished thanks to people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. As far as finding results for the bra colour as your status campaign, it’s a bit harder to find out what was accomplished. Participation was high, but I can’t find much evidence that it really did anything. Snopes doesn’t seem to know either, according to this very vague fact check.

Social media makes helping easier than ever. A lot of the time, all you’ve got to do is hit share. And for the most part, why not? Publicizing a cause with a quick click on the share button might not be the most effective way to make a difference, but it is something.

In some cases, however, showing off your kindness on social media can reach a level that is basically aggressive. Take this recent display of.. something, where a Tik Tok user filmed himself giving flowers to someone he perceived to be an elderly and lonely woman. While many already find these displays of on-camera kindness pretty degrading to the target of the kindness, this woman, identified as Maree, was downright furious and called out “the patronizing assumption that women, especially older women, will be thrilled by some random stranger giving them flowers.” But I mean, at least she got some flowers? Maree didn’t even want them, and adds, “I didn’t want to carry them home on the tram, to really be quite frank.”

With such a powerful tool, a lot of good can and has been done. But, do you really care? Or do you want to be perceived as caring? Maybe it doesn’t even matter. Has anyone else found any strange ways to support a cause or show that you care on social media? Ever participated?

Facebook: Check out my new blog and help me understand the helping!

Twitter: Helping hand, or out of hand?

5 thoughts on “The strength of a community measured in shares

  1. I didn’t know about them asking the colour but I do remember the ice buck challenge I remember that a lot of people doing it

  2. WOW! I completely forgot about the Ice Bucket Challenge but I do remember seeing it all over Social Media when it was happening. It was for a great cause and totally brought awareness to an illness that, up until then, didn’t seem to get a lot of media coverage or fundraising.

    I have given to causes many times, Go fund me, children’s camps etc., only because I saw a post about it on social media.

    I agree with you that by utilizing the reach of Social Media, causes such as ALS and breast cancer can have a never ending reach and it certainly does bring together communities in the case of Go Fund Me campaigns.

    • I was totally planning to write about Go Fund Me’s in this, but realized it could pretty much be its own blog post. It’s such a great platform for directly helping people who need it, and without social media I don’t think it would work. Sometimes it can be a bit much, but lots of times I’m so happy to contribute to these and social media makes it so easy.

  3. Would’ve never thought that I would be reminded of the ALS ice bucket challenge when taking this class, love the blog topic. It really is true that social media has played a big part in allowing people to connect and stand together for a larger cause. Great blog idea and post!

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