Stop these 7 acts of online charity

- Mariah Reodica - The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines -  What happened to Kony 2012? For an awareness campaign that swept social networks and media outlets by storm, it barely managed to keep momentum. It also received a lot of backlash, with critics labeling it a “faux activist” movement — or fauxtivist, for short — because many of its followers haven’t gone beyond posting Facebook statuses in support of it.

Now, we’ve all affiliated ourselves with charities and welfare movements online  usually, with the best of intentions  but it’s a shame when we don’t rise above the trend. It can be due to laziness, a lack of awareness, or a whole other slew of factors. But while we do this, there are actual lives that we neglect to save.

So, here’s a list of seven acts of fauxtivism which can be more harmful than they are helpful. The next time you tweet or post something on Facebook, make sure you avoid doing one of these.

Emphasis on quote, unquote. The Kony 2012 video may have had style (and a massive budget), but it lacked substance. Watching a single 30-minute video hardly makes us experts at anything, so really read up before you share anything. It’s okay to admit that we don’t know as much as we should. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions. After all, it’s better than pretending to know it all.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing a shirt promoting a cause of your choice, but get real — it won’t stop injustices or crimes, no matter how stylish it looks. Same goes with changing your profile picture, okay? So the next time you change your exterior, remember to change inside as well. What can change the world are the people behind the shirts and profile pictures, when they do what they have to.

When anyone enters a grocery, they walk down the aisles to browse the merchandise, and end up getting a select few, leaving the bits and pieces they don’t want. But activism is hardly butterflies and rainbows to begin with; rallies are hardly glamorous, and neither is the fieldwork. If you’re going to put a badge on your Tumblr blog, back it up with real action. While it’s good to stop and smell the flowers, someone has to do the dirty work.

The way the media works in this century allows more voices to be heard, but then it becomes tempting to hop from bandwagon to bandwagon. Then again, our attention spans nowadays are much shorter when it comes to news. It may seem easy to get lost in all the noise, but it’s possible to avoid this. You can only call yourself a true supporter of a cause if you stick with it for years. If you don’t, move along, poser.

While Kony 2012 was at its peak, I still couldn’t point out Uganda’s location on a map. Now, Uganda’s location is far from inconsequential: Africa’s ongoing political strife is a result of centuries of history. Not to mention the tiny fact that Kony hadn’t been in Uganda for years; and that his army of child soldiers, has, to some extent, been disbanded. Of course, these things aren’t taught in Philippine schools, but there’s no excuse for staying ignorant. Log on to Wikipedia for a history refresher before you spread the next viral video.

Chain letters are so 2002. Today, we have dangerous apps on Facebook; some, disguising themselves as causes in order to get you to invite your friends to join. Beware of spam, dear readers. Raising awareness is great, but be sure your sources are legitimate before you annoy the hell out of your friends.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous things about fauxtivism is the false sense of empowerment that tends to come with it. However good our intentions are, if we rush into a situation without careful thought, it’s possible to do more harm than good. It’s like handing out laptops to children who can’t afford to have three meals today. Hardly anything in this world is black or white, and it takes a critical eye to pick just the right shade of gray.

* * *

Now, this doesn’t mean that there are no ways to help out. There is a multitude of ways to get actively involved, and many of them aren’t hard to find, like donating hair to Locks of Love instead of just sharing a picture of a cancer patient on Facebook and leaving it at that. Whether the cause be LGBT rights, political justice, or social welfare, don’t underestimate the value of getting informed, approaching NGOs and student groups, and donating time or money. How about making that famous instead?











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