This week I found out that someone I know is in a very bad situation. Actually, the situation is dire, really horrible, and honestly, unimaginable. I went to school with this person, and for a couple of years we spent a good amount of time together. This person is one of the nicest, sweetest, most genuine people I have ever known. In fact, I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this person.
Several years ago, this person wrote a fictionalized book about the place where we grew-up, and we connected again. For a while we kept in touch, and then, as people do, I got distracted and did not return one of this person’s emails, and that was that. I did follow this person’s career on their blog for a while, and when this person’s second book came out last year, I planned to buy it (but never did). We are connected via Facebook, but with so many updates flowing by, it was difficult to keep up.
Now, like I said, this person is in a dire, horrible, unimaginable situation. In 2012, my first inclination is to jump on Facebook/Twitter/my blog, etc. and shout to the rafters about it. I want to help in any way I can. I want people to know about the situation this person is currently in, and I want to have an answer that I can blog, tweet, update, crowd source, kickstart, flashmob and send virally so anyone who might be able to help out would see it and take action.
But I can’t.
I can’t do it because the people who have put this person in this very dire, horrible and unimaginable situation have access to the same social media that I do. They can read tweets, they can monitor posts to the person’s Facebook page. They can read news stories, and search Twitter feeds, and consume blog posts. Every time they see a word written or mentioned about this dire, horrible and unimaginable situation, it emboldens them to keep it going. The very tools that I (and honestly, many other people who want to help but can’t find a way either) have access to, the tools we think could use to help make a difference, are the same ones that might prolong the situation, or change the outcome to something terrible.
This is where social media fails. It’s been said, “if we all have a voice, then none of us have one” (don’t ask me who said it, but I’m sure someone has). I’ve always though thought that cliché was bullsh*t. Now starting to think otherwise.