Published on Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00
The premise behind the local NGO's message is simple: It is meant to be a gentle reminder to passive audiences that simply clicking like on a photo that is on display on facebook will not do anything to alleviate the suffering of survivors living in disaster zones or war zones.
As a member of a disaster relief organization
myself, I would like to point out that while the message raised by Crisis Relief Singapore is a valid one, it also neglects to mention several critical points.
It is not a bad thing to like a photo of a warzone or disaster zone on facebook. Doing so helps the photo appear on more people's feeds and ensures that it stays within public awareness. The impetuous to motivate people to do something however, has to come from a proper call to action that should be included in the photo's caption.
Posting a photo without a strong call to action that clearly tells people what they can do to help is just as bad as simply clicking like on a photo. The sad truth is: people need to be told what to do and that includes moving them towards taking action that will have a positive social impact.
An effective call to action will be one that tells people what they can and should do if they want to help. People need to be reminded that they don't have to actually be on site at a disaster/conflict area to be able to help survivors. People can simply help by organizing and mobilizing other citizens into action by crowd-sourcing for volunteers or expertise on facebook or through their offline networks.
Citizens can also support relief efforts through fund raising, spreading awareness or even maintaining an open communications channel for people by giving people onsite timely updates of any new developments that you see on the news. People should only go onsite for relief efforts if they know their own strengths so they don't end up becoming a liability or worse, which could end up getting them or someone else killed in the name of meaning well and doing good.
So the next time you like a photo of a conflict or disaster zone on facebook always remember that the power to help make someone else's life better lies in your hands. If you don't see a call to action telling you what you can do, always remember that it is your duty as a citizen of the world is to ask: How can I help? Chances are someone will see your question and point you in the right direction.