By: Abby Junkvorian
When opening almost any social media page in recent weeks, it seemed like every feed was flooded with a sea-colored blue, leaving many to ask – what is all this for?
In recent weeks, social media has been taken by storm with horror stories of the current unrest in Sudan for the Sudanese people.
Starting out as small protests against rising bread prices – and the economic problems that came with it – these protests quickly gained traction and became much larger anti-government demonstrations.
Now labeled as a massacre of the people, many around the world are taking notice and wanting to help. All across social media, influencers and celebrities have started to tag and share posts with #blueforsudan, the color representing unity and solidarity with the Sudanee people. Quickly though, many accounts began popping up with one purpose only, to gain profit off unverified promises.
The Sudan Meal Project accounts began popping up on the stories of many of my classmates and following list on Instagram only a few days after the crisis hit the major news stations.
Accounts like @sudanmealprojectcharity or @sudanmealofficial began to share posts promising that if you shared this post as well, they would donate meals to Sudanese children and families. Any young person would look at these and say sure! What harm can be done in helping to provide better life quality and aid to all these people? Well, a lot – especially if you’re not really helping to begin with.
The account @ExposingInstaScams, created by a young man in California, quickly popped up and began exposing all these fake Sudan aid pages and fake environmental projects. Even though this kid has managed to expose the truth behind many of these fake accounts and their untruthful postings, the question of why people keep feeding into these lies still stands.
With the rise of the internet, it has become much easier for the world to have a first look into the problems people face all over the globe.
One can also find safe, trustworthy, nonprofits to donate supplies and money to in order to aid the people in their time of need. With all these helpful charities being so easily accessible, why do social media users still repost all these false advertisements? The simple, tried and true answer is the influence.
Most teens want people to look at their accounts and say, “Wow, this person is really amazing! They’re really trying to make a difference in the world!”
In fact, many of my friends have reposted these unverified aid accounts and posts on their pages and stories. The sad fact is that many of them only do it for this type of recognition and don’t really attempt to verify the source and if they are really helping those suffering people of other nations.
To all of these challenges though, I propose a solution. Helping people should never be about recognition, it should be about reward. The reward being the happiness and gratefulness of others, and your own self-satisfaction that you did the right thing and truly made a difference in someone’s life (no matter how big or how small).
Too often we can get defensive and say, ‘they don’t have the money to donate to places like The Red Cross or UNICEF’ and insist that the only way to help is by raising awareness on the internet.
News flash, it’s not.
It costs absolutely nothing more than time and effort to go down to your local soup kitchen and help feed people less fortunate than yourself – or to find a local shelter to help organize supplies for families, perhaps you could even donate your old clothes to those in need.
Everywhere in this world, communities can come together to help others in their worst hours.
The best thing to do now is not to sit behind your screen and “slack-tivate” but to go out and make a difference to show the world that you really care.
Looking to help the Sudanese people? Visit UNICEF’s website for more information. To get involved in your own community, visit websites like unitedway.org in order to find volunteer opportunities near you.
EDITOR’S NOTE: MUCH OF THE MONEY COLLECTED BY UNICEF & UNITED WAY RARELY GOES TO THOSE MOST IN NEED. BUT DON’T JUST TRUST OUR WORD, DO AS ABBY SAYS AND RESEARCH THESE THINGS YOURSELF. ◊