The Power of Social Media: #LoveArmyForSomalia

By Andrea Loaiza on April 5, 2017

It has been a few years since social media started its revolution. We all know its general pros and cons, and how it has become indispensable in our daily life. I’m sure that most of us can live without it, we just choose not to, and that choice is not bad. You may think that people who spend a lot of time on the Internet are weird people who can’t live without their daily likes and comments. Would you believe me if I told you that social media is more than a selfie posted on your Instagram?

Social media is, in fact, saving lives.

As the millennial you are, you’ve probably opened at least one social media platform this week. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. All these apps are our source of information and news — all kinds of news. That’s how we get the information about what’s happening around the world. There’s a better chance you will know about international news through a video posted on Facebook or by an image with a big caption explained through Instagram rather than seeing it in a newspaper.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, social media is defined as “forms of electronic communication … through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).”

We create communities based on our likes, dislikes, and hopes. Social media was created as a way to be heard by everybody, everywhere, at any time, and some people are taking advantage of these opportunities.

A few days ago, Jerome Jarre, Juan Pablo Zurita, Ben Stiller, Casey Neistat, and Chakrabars realized the real potential of social media and decided to create a project bigger than themselves.

On March 15, these outstanding social media figures got onto their social media and released a short, two-minute video explaining the heartbreaking situation that East Africa is going through. According to the U.N., the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. They explained the situation a lot of families in Somalia are going through. The lack of rain is making it difficult for the communities to survive.

As Zurita explained in his video, “There’s no water. There’s no food. There’s no livestock. There’s literally people dying while you are watching this video.”

Jarre even told his followers that a volunteer in Somalia talked to him on the phone, telling him how he witnessed a 6-year-old girl die from dehydration after walking 90 miles with her mother, looking for water.

They felt powerless, helpless. The fact that media wasn’t talking about this enough was certainly one of the biggest issues. Nobody was talking about it, and if they did, they talked about it as something that didn’t have a solution.

“…We don’t need any media. We are our own media.” — Juan Pablo Zurita

These guys initiated the first call to action. They asked their followers to use the hashtag #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia, as this is the only airline that flies to Somalia, to see if they were willing to help them with a “crazy idea.” The goal was to find an airplane, fill it with food and water, and send it to Somalia.

In less than 24 hours, the airline answered and accepted their request! They were willing to give one of their flights for Somalia, a cargo flight where they could fit 60 TONS of food and water, and send them there. Turkish Airlines saved the date: Monday, March 27, 2017, a flight from Istanbul to Somalia.

These social media figures took their time to sponsor their goal through all their medias. If people on the outside weren’t going to put effort into this goal, they were. People like Calvin Harris, Colin Kaepernick, Wilson Chandler, and more have already donated a huge amount of money. This doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a thousand dollars, you can’t cooperate. They encourage all their followers to donate. One dollar. Five dollars. Twenty dollars. Whatever you are able to give is something to start with.

The YouTubers Jerome Jarre and Juanpa Zurita have already given us an insight about the artistic project behind this. Stiller is thinking about doing a documentary about this whole project, to see if they can make their voices heard on a more universal level. It has been said that it’s a secret project but announcing it has been a plus to the campaign, as people have been wanting to contribute more after realizing that they would be part of something bigger than they thought.

On March 19, these guys reached the goal of $1M to fill, according to Zurita, at least 10 airplanes! At that time, around 50,000 people had contributed to help meet this goal. Jerome Jarre explicitly said that the first $1M was going to be used to buy food. As the people need special food because of their conditions, some of the food they wanted to give included “rice, vegetable cooking oil, nutritional biscuits, flour sugar, and porridge.”

By March 25, they had already saved $2,345,836 of the $2M, which was the new goal after they reached $1M. Turkish Airlines have left a 6-month range of time for this group of people to keep helping Somalia and its community.

Two or three years ago, I would be asking myself about the importance of social media. In my mind, those places were meant for you to take pictures of your food or a selfie making a duck face. However, society has revolutionized the meaning behind social media. We have taken these platforms and used them for good.

Don’t get me wrong, we still use them for that. If you get onto any social media right now, you will likely see some #throwbacks from Spring Break. However, we’ve learned better. We have in our hand the tool of massive and fast communication.

“Using social to raise a million dollars for those in need in less than a day really illustrates the power of social,” Casey Niestat stated.

So what are you waiting for? Donate now!

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