Poor social media. It’s received a lot of blame for relational difficulties in our day. The very tools that are supposed to help us connect can also put distance between us.
Most commentary on the matter pushes us from one end of the spectrum to the other: either abstinence is espoused to avoid the misuse, or entrenchment is sanctioned to embrace the benefits. I see these tools as neutral — it’s our misuse that’s the trouble. So I was encouraged to read a recent NPR report of a positive use of social media for helping people in need:
[C]rowd funding isn’t just for hipsters anymore; it’s moving into all kinds of other spheres, from startups to research to personal causes. And increasingly, people felled by illness or injury are using these sites to raise money for their health care.
For a small processing fee for each donation, several sites allow users to collect money for their mounting medical bills. GoFundMe is one of these services. Its CEO Brad Damphousse explains:
[M]ost users raise funds through people they know and their friends because the site makes it easy for them to broadcast their cause on Facebook and Twitter. And the bigger the social network, the easier it is to reach the goal. But not everyone succeeds. People with small social networks tend to have more trouble meeting their fundraising goals, he says. When Shots reviewed the site, it appeared that the people who are closest to their goals have at least 200 Facebook friends.
Perhaps crowd funding could be the means by which the Church in our day could mirror the sort of care that the early Church displayed: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45, ESV).