Poverty – particularly when it comes to children, the third world, and seemingly insurmountable issues such as world hunger – is an uncomfortable issue. For many of us, it’s easier to ignore it and push it to the recesses of our mind then attempt to come to grips with and consider ways in which to alleviate the injustices that exist in the world. For most of us, it’s not that we don’t care; it’s that the problem is so huge that it can’t be understood on a personal, individual level and as such we can’t really connect with the issues and crises that exist in the world today.
But could social media be the key? Social media refers to the creation and exchange of user generated content and can take a number of different forms, including internet forums, blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video or social networking sites. The media is essentially about connecting people, and as such is being adopted by a range of non-profit and charitable organisations to revamp and modernize their efforts to end poverty beyond mere charity donations. By creating an online community that fosters an understanding and gives readers or users an inside look into issues facing the Third World and poverty stricken countries today, it is hoped that a community and dialogue around these issues will develop and contribute to an informed, engaged public who are willing to act on and help address the problem.
Here’s a rundown of how social media is helping give poverty a voice:
- Personalised communication. Social media is made up 메이저사이트 of user generated content, meaning that those reporting on and engaging in a discussion over poverty are speaking from personal experiences. Furthermore, the information transmitted and shared through social media comes from a human, identifiable voice as opposed to an impersonal, remote organisational script. ActionAid Australia, for example, has launched Project Toto – a number of blog outposts in poor communities around the world, with locals trained to use free social media tools such as Twitter and blogs to tell their stories. Project Toto provides a new medium through which people living in poverty can express themselves and raise awareness of their rights. It also enables Australians to gain an intimate and powerful insight into the lives of people living in poverty and highlights the injustices and human rights violations that cause that poverty.
- Facilitates openness and transparency and helps the democratic process. In terms of poverty and a disempowered Third World community, social media is providing citizen and community controlled platforms on which issues can be debated and understood. As a result, social media is empowering to the citizens of Third World countries. An example? Social media has significantly aided the voting process in Nigeria in recent elections. A campaign called COOL2VOTE Nigeria uses Facebook, Twitter, videos blogs and online music to capture minds of young people, engage with them and bestow on them a political consciousness. This social media initiative is also accessible to the Western world, allowing an engagement and understanding of the issues facing the country beyond the Nigerian borders.
- A number of media forms. The media involves not only written information, but also pictures and movies. This visual element and communication between the third and the first world is crucial in painting a more complete picture of the circumstances and developments in poverty stricken worlds, and making the situation not just an idea or a concept but a reality. Now days you can even sponsor a child directly through social media!
Social media is working towards making the issues of poverty visible, engaging and relevant to the Western world and is fuelling improved governance in developing countries. With multicultural perspectives and the creation of meaningful engaged communities, it is hoped that the issues of poverty will be better addressed and attacked on a personal and community based level.