Ok I’ll admit it, I didn’t particularly want to see the photo of little Aylan’s lifeless, drowned body all over my facebook, nobody did. I’d already decided that I would do what I could by donating money and some much needed supplies to those in Calais, and seeing that photo of a real life tragedy wasn’t going to change that.
But maybe the importance of that heartbreaking photo was that it would make people stop, think and help when they may not have usually done so. That photo might be just the thing to get enough signatures on a petition to get our government to actually do something.
Social media may well have created a platform for people to keep in touch with far flung friends and family, it allows people to broadcast their happy holidays, share the achievements of their wonderful children, show off their latest car or even just go selfie-crazy. It probably even made a bigger monster out of the troll phenomena. I often wonder if social media has made us more selfish, more prone to bragging, more absent.
But the more I think about it the more I realise that, for me personally, it has also been a form of education, a way for me to learn about people and cultures and real life. This past year I have learnt about family and friends who went out to Nepal and got stuck in with the aid efforts after the life shattering quake (some off their own backs and not in conjunction with huge international organisations). I’ve read about the highs and lows of a friend as she and her family learn how to get the best out of life for her autistic son. I’ve cried silently as I read how a friend is grieving the death of a loved one, or suffering from debilitating depression. I’ve donated money as friends ran or climbed or cycled etc for charity.
All of this has made me remember that despite the seemingly perfect holiday snaps with filters and effects on them life isn’t actually perfect, that things don’t always go our way and that when the chips are really down there is still humanity in us. People can be, and are inherently good. And if it has done that for me, just one person, imagine the positive power it can have over the many millions of us who use it on a daily basis.
If you’d like to do something to help, check out this article in the Independent