Recently, Yahoo! news featured this article “Lady Gaga quits Facebook, Twitter for charity.” Apparently, stars such as Lady GaGa, Justin Timberlake, and Usher are quitting Twitter and Facebook temporarily to raise money for Alicia Key’s charity called Keep a Child Alive, which commits itself to helping families whose lives have been affected by HIV/Aids in Africa and India. Keys has persuaded the stars to quit social networking until people donate $1 million. To millions of their fans and followers, this is a nightmare. But the founder of the charity, Leigh Blake, explained that, “we're trying to sort of make the remark: 'Why do we care so much about the death of one celebrity as opposed to millions and millions of people dying in the place that we're all from.” With our vastly interconnected society, enabled by the internet (of course), the implication of this statement is that the absence of these people from these sites is akin to dying, albeit in an online sense.
This reminded me of the case of Gandhi. Because of Gandhi's prominence around the world, British authorities were unwilling to allow him to die in their custody, since it is likely that Britain's reputation would have suffered as a result of such an event. So Gandhi engaged in several famous hunger strikes to protest British rule of India. Hunger strike was their non-violent way of protesting and communicating their message.
Today, “important” members of the society such as the aforementioned stars (this “importance” is based mainly on the fact that they have millions of followers and fans in Twitter and Facebook) use their fame to help charities. But in lieu of a hunger strike (which is so 20th century!), they abstain from using Twitter and Facebook. Instead of a potential actual death due to starvation, these celebrities are facing a likely “online death” should their message not be heeded. So if you don’t want Lady GaGa to forever disappear from Twitter and Facebook, it's best to give in and donate to charity. After all, it’s good for your soul too! J
Katrina Sy, 3rd blog entry