Wildfires: Social Media Influence

Australia and California have both been ravaged with the worst wildfires seen in decades, a fact many teenagers know about because of social media. While the influencers on social media are helping spread awareness, some question whether or not they are using their platform in the wrong way. Is it about the fires or about the likes and follows? 

Influencers use hashtags to link certain stories together. During the events of the California and Australia wildfires, many influencers used these hashtags and posted pictures that were unrelated to the event.

One very well known influencer, “The Naked Philanthropist,” whose real name is Kaylen Ward, used her platform to sell provocative images and raised over a hundred thousand dollars. For about a week, multiple tweets, articles and posts were made about her take on helping charities. Although it was an inappropriate way to help, many people believed her idea was smart. Other influencers began to follow in her footsteps. Just days ago, Kaylen tweeted she raised an estimated million dollars.

Another famous influencer known as Kylie Jenner was also praised for donating $1 million to relief efforts. 

It’s wonderful that so many of these organizations have benefited from much-needed donations and that so many people around the world are willing to help in any way they can, but it will probably take some time for the benefits of those things to reach individual people or families. For those who are struggling with the aftermath of the fires, the outpouring of support on social media can mean a lot, but for those who have suffered great losses and are trying to rebuild their lives, feeling like their devastation is in the spotlight can also become an added stress. Highlighting disasters is a bit of a double-edged sword in that way,” said Ms. Cassidy Duran, an English teacher and former Australia resident.

Although some posts were made to help, there are some that were offensive. 

 

 

 

 

As stated by Ms.Duran, these kinds of posts don’t always benefit those who are suffering. We need to find better ways to help rather than using social media. Yes we can donate money, but what about volunteering to do some actual work yourself. 

Some posts tend to be hurtful even if they are meant as a joke. When it comes to serious cases like these wildfires, we shouldn’t joke about them. What you post on social media can have lasting effects on you, stop and think about the things you say or share. Students from Leyden agreed these events shouldn’t be joked about: 

“When I see posts making fun of serious situations I feel bad for the people who have lost everything. Imagine waking up to see updates and going on twitter to see all these memes,” senior Nancy Robles said.

“I would be personally offended. It’s sad to see what this generation has come to,” Alexis Garcia agreed.

“This makes me hate our generation,” Janely Solis noted.

We have to ask ourselves, what can we as generation z do to help prevent offensive posts? The best thing to do instead of sharing is reporting these kinds of posts. If we give them more attention they will continue to spread, and it’ll become normal to say offensive things. If we put ourselves in the shoes of those who have suffered immensely, the hate might cease to exist. 

“I think people should promote causes that they feel connected with or committed to, or else it becomes a bit like token activism where people are more interested in showing the world how much they ‘care’ for the sake of likes and shares than they are with actually helping the people who need it. And for those affected to be sort of left behind or abandoned a week or two later when it isn’t trending anymore, it must feel pretty disheartening,” Ms.Duran explained.

What we have to remember is that we have a voice. Our generation needs to help promote a healthier way of spreading awareness. When posting online it’s best to share pages that are meant for charities or fundraisers. By working together we can make a positive impact on the way social media is perceived in years to come. 

To donate money visit:  https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity

To learn more about wildfires visit: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires