Social media is often recognized narrowly as a way to connect with friends, or to share and read the news. Yesterday it was demonstrated that social media can serve as a medium of mobilization for disaster relief, helping Americans all over the country reach out and help those affected by the tornado in Oklahoma on Monday.
Shortly after the destructive twister tore through the town of Moore outside Oklahoma City , conservative radio personality and talking head Glenn Beck used Twitter to organize a “convoy of hope” to travel to Oklahoma to provide early disaster relief. Within hours, Beck’s team had used Twitter to locate trucks and supplies, and they were on their way, arriving in the Moore area bearing food, water, and diapers.
Beck maintained his ties to the Twittersphere throughout the journey, live-tweeting national updates on the disaster and his personal sentiments. Twitchy posted many of the tweets here. Beck notes from his personal Twitter account that he was leafing through scripture along the way trying to find direction from God. Twitchy also posted tweets from ordinary people who were very thankful to Beck for his prompt mobilization.
The relief effort comes under the umbrella of Beck’s charity, Mercury One. The charity’s mission statement is “To inspire, organize, and mobilize individuals to improve the human condition physically, emotionally, and spiritually with malice towards none and charity for all.” Mercury One has three core principles: restore, faith, and entrepreneurship.
Beck’s convoy of hope has seen remarkable success. In just over a day, it has raised over $500,000. Initially, Beck hoped to raise at least $50,000 but with over 6,000 donations his organization has long surpassed that goal.
This is an occasion where we get to use social media in a different form, and a more proactive one. From securing trucks and supplies to soliciting thousands of donations, there is no other way that Glenn Beck or anyone could have seen these results so quickly.
If there are plenty of things Americans do wrong, coming together and helping one another after a disaster is one thing we do right without fail. Maybe we don’t have to be “who [we] promised to be on 9/12/2001”, like Beck asked of his Twitter followers. Maybe we can be who we’ve always been, and continue taking care of our own, which is easier now more than ever.