"Pray For Nepal" Memes Raise Awareness & Boost Calls For Donations In The Wake Of The Earthquake
The death toll from Nepal’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake hovered just below 6,000 Thursday, according to The Guardian, while over 11,000 people were injured and an estimated 2.8 million were displaced. Around 8 million people have been affected by Saturday’s catastrophic earthquake in one of the world’s poorest countries, and relief has yet to reach many of the worst affected areas — located, as they are, in remote regions that have been rendered inaccessible by worsening weather. The Internet is awash with advice on how best to contribute to the aid effort, including a number of "Pray For Nepal" memes, and money is without a doubt desperately needed as Nepal enters crisis mode.
But if you’re hoping to also find a way to simply express your solidarity with the earthquake’s victims, social media is without a doubt the simplest and most immediate way to do so. Despite the criticism leveled at clicktivism (digital activism), expressing your views and supporting a cause online can arguably help to raise awareness and (as a knock-on effect) money. Twitter has clearly registered its potential importance in leveraging aid. “Twitter’s power is the ability to instantaneously connect people to what they care about,” company representatives stated in an official blog post. “In times of crisis, it’s our responsibility to make that experience as effective and efficient as possible.”
The blog post highlighted that, “[w]e aren’t a relief organization or an NGO,” but went on to outline their three-pronged approach to the crisis: disseminating information, helping nonprofits raise funds, and assisting local groups to co-ordinate relief efforts. The social media platform, as in other times of crises (such as the current Baltimore protests), has become a hub for commiseration, comment, and advocacy. The pleas for assistance and messages of support — many of which include the hashtag #prayfornepal and point to methods of assistance — offer an uplifting (and potentially potent) counterpoint to the steadily rising death toll and reports of slow relief.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world of social media, Facebook has pledged to match every dollar contributed through its donation widget to International Medical Corps (a generous offer which is nevertheless capped at $2 million — a teeny drop of water in the giant ocean that is the social media behemoth's gargantuan earnings).
It remains to be seen whether this social media engagement will be effective enough in raising awareness to perceptibly assist a humanitarian sector struggling beneath the weight of many concurrent crises. CNN reported Wednesday that $60 million had so far been pledged to the relief effort, but that the earthquake's overall cost is estimated to be in the billions.