The category 5 tropical cyclone Haiyan (Yolanda) has come and gone, leaving entire communities decimated in its wake. Meanwhile, there are several things Filipinos shouldn’t be doing on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
- Don’t say people in the Visayas region deserve it. It is not your place to judge whether or not a community deserves a projected death toll of 10,000, including innocent children. That is, unless you think you can read God’s mind.
- Don’t keep posting food photos. People in areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan are actually desperate for water and food. It’s not that posting yummy photos of food is illegal; it just might get your teeth kicked in by your Facebook friends, especially those whose relatives are still missing.
- Don’t say, “The survivors should be thankful.” It’s like telling a mother who lost her son, “At least you still have two other children” or something equally insensitive.
- Don’t say, “The Philippines deserves the privilege of experiencing a strong typhoon because they’re a strong nation.” How would you feel if someone said, “Your family deserves the privilege of experiencing tragedy because you are a strong bunch”? Yeah, I thought so.
- Don’t say, “It’s okay, the Philippines will be fine.” Filipinos are resilient. But shrugging off the devastation like it’s just a mosquito bite is tantamount to undermining the loss of life and property.
- Don’t brag about your expensive brand new gadget. Congratulations; you have a new toy – but celebrating your wealth during a calamity makes you look like a jerk.
- Don’t say you have nothing to donate. Yes, you do. You have at least one piece of clothing you haven’t worn in a year. You have spare change for at least one bottle of water. After all, you have the budget for an Internet-ready gadget.
- Don’t stop at giving to charity. Did making a donation make you feel better? Good for you! But charity isn’t for your sake; it’s for the sake of people who need it. Charity comes with a measure of responsibility. Make sure your donation actually makes it to the typhoon-ravaged areas – that is, if you genuinely care.
- Don’t keep posting selfies. Your friends know you’re pretty. Even your friend’s cousin’s best friend’s driver knows you’re pretty. But your face shouldn’t hog the limelight while worried relatives post pictures of the family members they can’t contact up to now.
- Lastly, don’t miss out on the chance to do something useful with your social networks. Get your friends to donate – and ask them to do so responsibly. Spread the word about the tragedy in the Philippines. Let your Twitter profile be a beacon of hope. Join the campaign to ask Philippine TV to cover the tragedy instead of just airing variety shows.
Do something helpful. Don’t think you’re “just one person.” You – yes, you – can make a difference. Help the Philippines now.
Dr. Stef dela Cruz is a blogger and columnist. She writes in hopes that her words will push people, especially her fellow Filipinos, to act with kindness towards the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. She believes in the power of social media; connect with her onFacebook and Twitter.