Last week, I asked the question—which I’ve been asking for years—“Where’s the online discussion of hunger?” Crickets.
Dang folks. These online channels—blogs, social media, forums, etc.—offer enormous potential for exciting and diverse discourse. The hunger community is a passionate and opinionated bunch. There’s enough diversity of thought among those who care about feeding people to have some really interesting discussion going on? So why don’t we?
When I asked the question last week, social-media-for-social good expert Beth Kanter suggested on twitter that perhaps hunger fighters were too focused on making change offline to be spending energy in online discussion. I think she’s correct. To a certain degree.
Here’s my thinking right now (note: There’s a bit of devil’s advocacy here, and the view does not necessarily reflect those of my employer or fellow team members. And it is a generalization, for which there are notable exceptions. Apologies to those folks, and you know who you are—you’ll likely be the ones who comment here):
Many of the people who are on the front lines, who are the best informed and have the strongest views on the issue of hunger, are not participating online. They’re digital immigrants, if they use technology at all. They are indeed busy offline. They have, instead delegated the responsibility of online participation to marketing people.
Many of the marketing people in hunger relief (some working for the largest organizations) just haven’t yet embraced the concept of online conversations and community building. Hunger is not their thing. Marketing is. They’re intensely focused on their own organizational objectives and metrics, many of which ultimately direct to fundraising. That’s how they’re wired. Consequently, there’s little conversation. Little sharing of meaningful content. No engaging with those who aren’t direct stakeholders, especially those who might have a different point of view (or aren’t funders).
Okay. I’ve poked a hornet’s nest. Prove me wrong. Discuss.
Photo by al3xadk1n5 Flickr Creative Commons