On June 3, a military crackdown in Sudan led to the deaths of dozens — including one Mohamed Hashim Mattar. The landscape of social media immediately flooded with indigo blue, Mattar’s favorite color. In the wake of a humanitarian crisis, thousands of Instagram and Twitter users have banded together.
In fact, several of my peers have shared a post from @sudanmealproject, an account claiming to dedicate meals to Sudanese civilians: “For every person who follows and shares this on their story we will provide one meal to starving Sudanese children.”
The account seems too good to be true — and most likely, it is. While the account’s intentions seem honorable, there is no concrete evidence that the account will uphold their promise.
With no website and no proof of donations, it is obvious that the account’s goal is not economically feasible. The account was soon removed off of Instagram. But copycat accounts are still being made — each promising to provide meals to starving Sudanese children.
Share-to-save accounts like @sudanmealproject that promise to donate to charity in exchange for sharing or liking a post are not a foreign concept. Over the past few months, a growing socio-environmental conscience has taken over my social media timeline.
I’ve seen my high school peers share posts that promise to plant a tree for every like and whatnot. These types of posts, attempting to save the world on a grand scale, are questionable in nature.
I do recognize that some of these accounts may uphold their promises, and I commend them for that; however, whether or not these accounts uphold these promises, the share-to-save mentality is concerning.
I want to clarify that I appreciate the effort of these accounts in spreading awareness of environmental or human rights issues. What concerns me is that these types of posts create certain misconceptions about advocacy. They promote the idea that something like saving the world is as easy as double tapping a screen.
The harsh reality is that it is not. In the grand scheme of things, saving something requires actual human effort, and giving off the illusion that it is as easy as one-two-three perpetuates a brand of superficial social advocacy.
More often than not, we use social media to advocate for a cause simply because everyone else is doing it. And that’s the problem: we too often post about social issues and advocacy, but we never actually act on our advocacy.
Straws: they suck. They have garnered a less-than-stellar reputation for allegedly harming sea turtles.
On Instagram and Twitter, thousands of users have posted about the dangers of single-use plastics, and big businesses like Starbucks and McDonalds have laid out plans to ban straws.
And while I agree that straws are not beneficial to the environment, they only comprise 0.025 percent of plastic that flows into the ocean, according to National Geographic.
My point is that people that share posts encouraging the banning of straws are more often than not sharing these posts because other people do.
Superficial social advocacy is more rampant than ever, as demonstrated by social media users that cherry-pick what social issues they advocate for based on what is considered trendy and what is not. We too often equate sharing or liking something to actually advocating for a cause.
Ultimately, I do appreciate those who do advocate for social issues on their platforms. Drawing attention to humanitarian issues — whether it be by changing one’s profile picture to Mattar’s blue, or by promising to plant a tree for every like a post gets — is crucial to alleviating these issues.
However, I cannot help but notice that these share-to-save posts are promoting the dangerous mentality that the world can be saved by the tap of the finger.
If you want to help the Sudan crisis, resources can be found on https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/where-we-work/africa/sudan.