Social Media didn’t exist in my childhood. Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t join Facebook until after University. I’ve always been a little late on the uptake but I have definitely tried to make up for lost time and, like others, I am guilty of going a little too far, ‘Wow – I just saw a squirrel. I must tweet about that’. I know, I know – it can be annoying. As can the popularity contest of how many ‘friends’ you have, the disgust when someone tags you in a bad photo, you moan about the irritating status updates (while writing your own) and you feel frustrated when you realise someone only ‘followed’ you so you would follow them back (how dare).
Along with that shamefully trivial side, there is also a very dark side – situations of trolling from people who actually enjoy using social media as a way to be foul to others. It is such a difficult thing to monitor and control as, more often than not, those dishing the abuse are hidden behind a pseudonym and a mask of anonymity – cowards.
BUT, it is time to forget those points above because, while I completely understand that social media can indeed breed nastiness, this post is highlighting the area where I believe social media is at its very best. I am pleased to see our news and twitter feeds now flowing with a surge of campaigns used to raise awareness about good causes.
Here are three fantastic examples:
I have blogged about little Margot Martini before. Margot was diagnosed with Leukaemia at 14 months old in October last year and was in desperate need of a donor to save her.
Margot’s wonderful parents, Vicky and Yaser, created Team Margot – hitting social media with a request for people to come forward and sign up to the donor list through a thirty-second mouth swab.
At one of the donor drives (I attended one thanks to a help mob by The Free Help Guy), a match was found for Margot and she is now on the road to recovery. I love to see how Margot is doing through the updates on Facebook. She has melted my heart.
But does Team Margot stop there? Absolutely not. Vicky and Yaser are battling on, continuing to spread the word for Delete Blood Cancer for others in need through talks and charity events, all with growing support from many a celeb. Brilliant stuff.
Stephen was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 15 in 2010 and after a series of operations and chemo, he was told he was in remission. But the cancer returned, this time in his leg and spreading to his pelvis. Stephen was delivered the news that his cancer was incurable and what he did next was astonishing.
Stephen created a Facebook page ‘Stephen’s Story’ which involved him posting about a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve. That is amazing in itself, but when his page developed and his followers increased, Stephen decided to devote all of his efforts to helping others (refusing help offered to him personally) to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
His original goal was to raise £10,000 on his Justgiving page but he has blown that out of the park by raising way over £3M!
From sky diving to golf days, comedy nights to ‘feel good’ events’ – this young man is spreading positivity with enthusiasm that we should all follow by. If we could all take a pinch of his zest for life, I am certain the world would be a better place. He is a superhero in my eyes.
In the last two days Stephen suffered from breathing difficulties and has ended up back in hospital. His FB post remains as upbeat as ever and he hopes to be out of there soon. I have everything crossed.
Sadly, since I published this post, Stephen has lost his battle with cancer. His Mum has released a beautiful, heartfelt message on his Facebook page. What a legacy he has left. My thoughts are with Stephen’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Watch his inspirational YouTube video HERE.
I came across this story recently through an article I read in the Independent’s i newspaper entitled, Bride-to-be’s quest to find life saving donor for her fiancé.
29-year-old Mike was diagnosed with Leukemia earlier this year. It was moments after I saw the piece that I came across this story on twitter and Facebook with the shocking news that he has only 60 days to find a donor match.
Kate, his fiancé, has launched a campaign called #shake4mike – ‘shake’ being the operative word. All you have to do is to post a photo of you ‘shaking your face at cancer’, using the hashtag and nominating the next person. This campaign for Mike and others is to direct people to the Anthony Nolan charity register. All it takes is giving blood with the potential to save someone’s life. So get shaking!
Social media can be an exceptionally powerful tool. Of course it can be fickle and used in the wrong way, but cases such as the three above show that it has the potential to make a real difference – it has the potential to help to save lives.
I am following all of these campaigns avidly as they grow in followers and strength. And if there was only one blog post that I would ask you, kindly, to share and retweet – it would be this one.
Margot, Stephen and Mike – this one’s for you.
A lot of love,