Gen Y, Social Media, & How We’re Making A Difference

11 Apr

I’m sitting in class and I feel really bad for my professor. No one’s paying attention to him.

I look around and everyone’s either got a phone in their hand or a laptop open. And I promise you, no one’s taking notes.

Statuses are being updated, pictures are being posted, and I’m sure that at least five people are on Twitter.

Okay, fine. Maybe we should be paying a little more attention.

I hear it all the time, when I talk about Gen Y, that we’re addicted to social media.

Gen Y… addicted to social media…can’t put their phones down.

How awful.

But is it really?

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m addicted to social media. I know that one of these days I’m going to leave my phone on my bed and I’m going to head into work and that day is going to be terrible. I repeat…terrible.

Because whether we like it or not, we have this constant need to be connected.

To everything…all the time.

Everything is in our face.


And that’s not going to change.

So we can do one of two things.

We can either focus on how awful social media is because back in the day people used to actually play outside, etc. etc. etc.


We can embrace the fact that it’s here to stay and figure out how to use it for the better. We can look for the positives. We can figure out how to make the world a better place by using it to its fullest potential.

Companies and organizations that are smart, are choosing the latter….because it makes sense.

Take a look at Rotary International.

They have an amazing campaign to help end polio.

Even though they’ve been active in ending polio since the 80s, right now they’re focusing on raising awareness through their innovative End Polio Now campaign. Since the global initiative began over 25 years ago, Rotary International and its partners have reduced polio cases by more than 99 percent worldwide.

That’s pretty impressive.

You see, it used to be that foundations and organizations could only raise awareness through face-to-face events. It used to be that in order for these initiatives to be successful, thousands of dollars had to be spent on direct mailings asking for donations. It used to be that the only people who took interest in philanthropy and good causes were wealthy individuals, who were usually older.

But that’s not the case anymore.

And I’d argue that social media has played a pretty big role in that.

Because today, it’s cool to make a difference. We see it all the time.

Every time I go on Facebook, there’s a post from someone I know asking me to help them raise money for some kind of marathon they’re running. And so I donate because it’s for a good cause (and because dear God I have no idea how anyone can run 26+ miles without losing a lung).

And when I’ve done this, I feel good about it.

I feel good about it and it makes me happy.

It makes me happy because I see that young people are making a difference.

For that reason, organizations like Rotary International make me really happy.

I mean, you just can’t help but be interested when you hear that they’re putting together the World’s Biggest Commercial to end polio- and create a Guinness World Record- and that you can be a part of it.

First of all, I think it’s awesome that we’re so close to eradicating polio. In 1988, 125 countries were polio-endemic. Today, due largely to Rotary’s efforts, only three countries in the world- Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan- have not eradicated the disease.

That’s a huge deal.

But although we’ve come a long way, the fight won’t be over until polio has been completely eradicated. The disease isn’t fun. It’s a cruel disease that cripples children. It’s highly contagious, and until it’s 100% eradicated, polio remains a worldwide risk. If we don’t finish the fight right now, more than 10 million children under the age of five could be paralyzed by polio in the next 40 years. And I don’t want that.

So let’s help end it.


By spreading awareness.

That’s why I’ll be participating in the World’s Biggest Commercial.

Nearly 14,000 people in 144 countries have joined to date!

I’ll be joining other individuals and celebrities worldwide by uploading my “this close” photo.

I’ll use my new wonderful photo app, Picfx, to edit my photo until I look decent.

And then I’ll post it on Facebook

And Twitter…

And Instagram…

And pretty much anywhere else that people can see it.

Because I want people to know that it costs just $0.60 to vaccinate a child.

Because I want people to be educated.

And because more than anything, I want everyone to know that us kids, us young people… we can make a difference too.

Here’s How You Can Help:

  • Make History. Visit and take part in the World’s Biggest Commercial in a show of solidarity and raise awareness for the complete eradication of polio. People around the world are uploading their photo making a “this close” gesture to join the commercial, and sharing the news with their blogs and social networks to make sure that we finish the fight to eradicate this terrible—and completely preventable —disease.
  • Generate Social Media Buzz. Tweet using the hashtag #EndPolioNow and including URL to help raise awareness.
  • Give Financially. Visit and make a donation. Just $.60 can vaccinate a child from the disease.
  • Share the good news with your community. Inform your social circles that we are “this close” to ending polio, encourage them to join the World’s Biggest Commercial and make history, and share these actions items with them for ways in which they, too, can help.

While this post has been sponsored by Rotary International, I’m proud to serve as an ambassador for their End Polio Now campaign.

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10 Responses to “Gen Y, Social Media, & How We’re Making A Difference”

  1. Kimberly Crossland April 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Great post Kayla! I too am addicted to my cell phone. Leaving it at home really is a tragedy some days ;) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Katie Robinson April 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    It is really amazing how much social media helps with making an impact. It has definitely helped with numerous causes. It empowers people to get behind a cause and its really easy to do!

  3. mypurplesummer April 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I will admit that there are benefits to social media, like the campaign you mentioned (and also, congrats on sneaking that it, I tip my hat to you) and I have snuck back on Twitter to promote my blog but there is something about social media I just can’t stand, it always feels so false, an empty like here (this is not an empty like I might add – loved this) or a casual retweet (this will be retweeted but not casually). As a youth worker I’m expected to promote Social Media in positive ways like you described but I just can’t get my head around it, I don’t even own a phone with internet. I guess I just like bumping into old friends and them genuinely asking me “what have you been up to?”

  4. Ashley April 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly about the good social media can do. I volunteer for a largely virtual, global organization called The Pixel Project, whose goal is to work together to raise awareness and end violence against women. Much of my volunteering is done through social media – it’s a way to spread knowledge, share education, connect with others on important causes. I really enjoyed this post and will have to check out Rotary International.

  5. danny April 12, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    We are cut from the same cloth. I’m excited to read more of what you write =]

  6. ichtusbrussel April 12, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Reblogged this on Ichtus Brussel.

  7. olsond6 April 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on CSH Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog and commented:
    An interesting article on harnessing the power of social media for good. Perhaps this has relevance to our work in classrooms.

  8. Ziggy Mang April 16, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    Amazing at all the capabilities and the detriment as well. We protested in person and now online. We observed from windows and now through iPhone swipes. Pros and cons

  9. jeffvlog April 26, 2013 at 1:42 am #

    Reblogged this on GLJ Media Group.

  10. angelamalagon April 29, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Reblogged this on Angela Malagon.

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