Facebook, Twitter, Google, Thoughts, YouTube, and countless other social media sites have shrunk the globe, allowing us to communicate in ways we once only dreamed. Our thoughts and ideas have become interconnected with friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers thousands of miles away. In the new digital world, Earth 2.0, our tweets, updates, blogs and uploads have become all one intertwined system, the firing synapses of the new age. In Orlando we can share a video about a family in France with a student in Japan, but at what cost?
Earth 2.0 is a community obsessed with superficial communication – birthday wishes on a Facebook wall and re-Tumbled blogs that made us laugh. Instead of living life, we’ve become satisfied with discussing it, nourishing a Farmville of acquaintances we can organize into Circles. We feel we have a relationship because we clicked a “like” button on a wedding photo album. We feel we’ve done good because we retweeted a link from the Salvation Army. But we don’t, and we haven’t.
Earth 2.0 is about talkers, not doers. We Gchat with people we wouldn’t meet for drinks and we post pleasant aphorisms about things we would never do. Worse yet, we think doing so makes a difference. When you’re on your deathbed, looking back on your life, you won’t care about the status you reposted, the chain email you forwarded, or the link you retweeted. You will care about the life you really lived, who you really loved, and what you really accomplished in a hands-on, Earth 1.0 type of way. You will care about those times you were a doer.
In Earth 2.0, things have become too easy – the gratification too instant. People of the world suffer, and we can accept it because we tweeted it. In an era where many charities claim a goal is to “raise awareness,” we feel we do the same with social media. But awareness isn’t enough. If a starving child knocks on your door, it wouldn’t help to tell your neighbors. Helping means giving him food.
Earth 2.0 has passed the buck on charity and serving mankind. We see a tweet about donating to the Red Cross so we retweet it. We feel good and go about our day, knowing that we have made the world a better place. We never bothered to donate to the Red Cross. Neither did anyone who saw our retweet.
We’ve become satisfied that by “raising awareness” we’ve done our part. We feel good about sharing a video that laments the sex trafficking in Malaysia. Because we feel good, we move on with our day. It ceases to bother us. We sit down and enjoy our Value Meal, secure in knowing that we “liked” a status about starving children in Sierra Leone.
In a part of Nicaragua called “La Chureca,” the population of over 1200 individuals lives in a trash dump. By working 14-hour days sorting trash, the families can earn up to $10 per week. Because of the unsanitary living conditions, 88% of the children have respiratory problems and 62% have parasites. I have just made you aware of this, but that has not changed the fact that the starving children are suffering from malnutrition and disease. Awareness can’t help them, but charity can.
The world doesn’t need more talkers; it needs more doers. There is more than enough buzz about issues in social media, more than enough celebrities championing the cause du jour. Earth 2.0 needs people willing to get on their knees, get their hands dirty, serve soup, hand out medications, serve as mentors, and donate some money.
The apathy is understandable. If you’re not rich, what difference can you make? For $32 per month with Children of the Nations, you can help provide healthcare and school supplies to impoverished children in Uganda. That’s around the same price as a month of the broadband Internet you used to share the Kony video.
Becoming a doer isn’t easy. In Earth 2.0, it isn’t the doers that are celebrated. We live-tweet watching a “reality” TV show about a rich family that is famous for having a reality TV show, so it’s understandable that we would fight animal abuse by making our Facebook profile purple. That’s what the firing synapses of our society have told us: the world, our 2.0 world, is about sharing, about communicating. Doing things – meeting your neighbors, cleaning up trash, volunteering at a homeless shelter, and sponsoring a child – are a part of the past. It’s Earth 1.0 thinking. But it doesn’t have to be. We can become doers again. Just share this message to raise awareness.