This post was inspired by an article I came across on how Ukrainians are using social media to alert their citizens of air raids through an app.
A little context
I have had this dilemma in the back of my head that I wanted to be informed of what’s happening without being engulfed in the emotional tornadoes of the news. Let’s say that’s how I got started on my quest in discovering digital wellness.
My friend Neha & I collaborated and wrote an entire series dedicated to our experiences of how social media was impacting us, particularly during the pandemic and at the end providing you tools and how we can be online and still protect our mental health aka our digital well-being. In case you missed you can hop across and check it out here.
Ukrainians came out with an app during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine called ALARM to notify people of air raids before the government sounded sirens. This app has been valuable to the rural regions of Ukraine because they are generally located on the outskirts and wouldn’t have heard the sirens.
I found that it’s truly ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. We are presently in the 21st century. Yet we still have countries bombing each other, especially with cluster bombs which are supremely dangerous. These cluster bombs are known to have bad directions and contain 20-30 mini bombs, of which some of them don’t detonate on landing.
For more definitely check out the Vox’s 9-minute video talking about the use of cluster bombs
Greta Thunberg, Sweden
How could I not mention my favourite person especially when I talk about climate change & the power of social media?
Also check out: Who is Greta Thunberg?
I have previously covered Greta on my blog because I’m a huge fan. At the age of 15, after watching a documentary called ‘Plastic Oceans’ she was shaken by the world’s inaction toward climate change. She started skipping school and protested outside the Swedish parliament. Her movement inspired others and came to be known as ‘Fridays For Future’.
Also Read: Making the world ‘Greta’ again
Her movement spread across the world, she even sailed across the ocean like a true climate warrior and attended climate conferences. She used social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to really make a difference and are not just her views but called the youth jointly to voice their concerns.
I think watching shows like Ragnarok, which is a Norwegian drama that captures all angles of the inaction towards climate change from the disinterested youth, why big corporations are not planning to switch to green technology anytime soon. It’s really an eye-opening fictional show that you must watch!
Khabar Lahariya, Uttar Pradesh
Closer home to India, we needed the Oscar-nominated documentary to bring our attention to the phenomenal work being done at the grassroots.
Khabar Lahariya was started in 2002 as a weekly newspaper in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh. This is a grassroots organization that gives marginalised women such as Dalits, Adivasis & Muslims a voice. The newspaper covers topics that concern their audiences such as stalled ration programmes, local corruption to gender- and caste violence.
They strongly believe that women shouldn’t just be consumers of the news, but also be given a chance to produce it. Now I found that so powerful. Initially, they had a reach of 8,000 physical newspapers published but because of the digital revolution, they were able to reach 80,000 new readers. Again the power of social media and how people reuse it to spread the word.
Arjun Vajpai, New Delhi
Another one of my favourites is Arjun Vajpai!
Being a trekker myself, I was able to resonate with Arjun Vajpai, a mountaineer that became the youngest Indian to climb Mt. Everest in 2010. My first job in the mountains was in a small village in Uttarakhand, which involved me segregating waste from the markets, the village and the slopes that the trekkers collected.
So I have seen the harm done because of the tourism on particular mountain tops. For instance, I was at the basecamp of Roopkund, back in 2018 when it was closed because of the damage to alpine meadows and plastic pollution.
As Vajpai scaled peaks, he noticed his climb time was shrinking each year when the weather was good. He realised this was due to global warming. Therefore he started a campaign called ‘Climb for Climate’ where he spreads awareness of the deteriorating state of the Himalayas and shrinking glaciers to the youth.
His earlier campaigns include the ‘No garbage Expedition’ where he wouldn’t leave any waste behind on the mountain. That’s not actually a common phenomenon because mountaineers usually leave stuff behind so they can travel light to the summit. So this definitely was a much-needed campaign.
Bulli Bai & Sulli Apps, Across India
On the last note on ‘Infamous use of social media I just had to cover this topic. There was an app that surfaced called Bulli Bai & Sulli Deals which auctioned off Muslim women as deals of the day. It collected Muslim women’s data from across the web and then collated it into the app and auctioned them off. The whole purpose was to demean them and harass them. So in a world where we use to social media to alert people or to harass them really depends on us as people and as a community!
Protect yourself. And always remember if the product is free, you are the product