NEW YORK (Nov. 14, 2012) In the wake of Hurricane Sandy debris and destruction can be seen in and around the houses in Breezy Point, N.Y. Over 100 houses burned to the ground as floodwaters isolated the community from fireman. Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and caused the most damage in New York and New Jersey Oct. 29, 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan J. Courtade/Released)

Disasters deserve more than a hashtag.

By Sarah Harris

In 2012, a film produced by the Invisible Children Inc., titled ‘Kony 2012’ took the internet by storm. Almost every human who had a presence on social media erratically began posting trending statements such as ‘#Kony2012’ and ‘Stop Kony 2012.’ The movement had such a powerful response over social media over the days after it was released, that it was even dubbed as the ‘most viral video ever’ by TIME Magazine. However, almost 6 years later, the video is nothing but a faint memory in the back of our minds and almost 70,000 children have been abducted to become child soldiers and sex slaves under the order of Joseph Kony, who remains the leader of guerrilla group, ‘Lord’s Resistance Army.’

Over the last few years, the world has been a victim to what seems like an endless number of crises’, such as the displacement of millions of African people by Joseph Kony. We as a society have rightly responded with sympathy and empathy, despite the fact that so few of these events have affected our own personal lives. We tweet about these disasters and post messages of condolence for those who have unfortunately had no choice but to surrender their lives to such catastrophes, yet we return to our daily lives. We go back to texting our friends about the plotline of the Netflix season we’re currently binging, or we get ready for pre’s with the intention of getting totally smashed, and not being able to remember how you got in to bed and when.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a good time, but there is a huge problem in the way that we treat world disasters as a ‘trend.’ There are a number of issues, such as the refugee crisis, the Palestine-Israel conflict and genocide in Burma, that have held the spotlight for a sliver of time and then simply been forgotten about as if the problem has been resolved by magic and vanished into thin air. The careless attitude we as a society hold is not only ignorant, but also incredibly insulting to those who have had their lives ruined, often through no problem of their own.

Maybe it’s because this current generation boasts a carefree and ‘chilled’ attitude towards almost everyone and everything, but it’s essential that we abandon this and address the matters that affect members of the human population every day. This way, we can slowly and eventually begin to solve matters of concern.

Still, a large proportion of the blame has to be on social media and the journalism industry. Journalists need to continue addressing problems as they continue to develop and inform us of what’s really going on in the world, instead of selling us new stories on a daily basis in hopes of maintaining public interest. They should also utilise social media to carry on raising awareness on pressing issues.

We, as the general public, should make sure we keep ourselves up-to-date with any current situations and utilise social media to make sure our peers are also aware, even if news outlets and journalists have stopped doing so. It’s important to remember that even if such issues may not affect us directly, they may be affecting the lives of people we know and are definitely affecting those of people we don’t know. World crises aren’t trends and aren’t just something that die out with fashion.

Issues such as the refugee crisis are as relevant as ever and it’s important we continue to talk about them so that they eventually can be resolved. The world can’t improve if we treat each crisis as a fad.

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