Twitter, like an oncoming vehicle or bovine tuberculosis, is something you’d do well to avoid if you know what’s good for you. Whether it’s Russian bots trying to twist your mind against whichever political candidate the Kremlin favours least that day, or a bunch of celebrities having yet another pointless spat at each other, Twitter really does serve as a platform to dull the mind and destroy brain cells. One character which also dwells mostly on Twitter is the one which most rustles my jimmies: the sanctimonious moaner. They moan about everything. They have the moral high ground about everything. And, most important to them, they obviously know how to solve every problem plaguing society and rescue each and every one of the least fortunate. And may God help you if you even dare to suggest they might not, you bigot.
Even with the problematic saviour-complex aside, these individuals are often the most hypocritical and the most problematic for those of us who actually do something for those less well-off. They tweet the horrors of consumer capitalism from their consumer capitalism-enabled iPhones, while pinning proudly their ‘smash the system’ badge onto a Vietnamese sweat shop-made Vans bag, while planning their trip to invest in some good ‘ol fast-fashion — one of the most polluting and exploitative industries on the planet. Meanwhile, on their way to their first Starbucks of the day, they are likely to pass and ignore at least one working family relying on a food bank for sustenance, a homeless person struggling for change, and a Big Issue vendor trying to scrape enough together for the bills.
Alas, I am stereotyping, and the vacuous society of ‘individuals’ we have become has made me perhaps too cynical; there will be people out there who likely acknowledge full well their iPhones are not sustainably sourced, wear ethical clothing, actually make a difference in their local area or some combination of the three.
However, for a great many people, the stereotype I presented isn’t too far off the mark. As someone who is actually involved with local charitable causes, these people infuriate me more so than those who openly denounce the less well-off. This is because these people claim to support the cause of social justice, poverty reduction, and so on, but yet would rather spend their time mindlessly moaning about said issues rather than putting their money where their mouths are, so to speak. They betray their supposed championing of the downtrodden and, in doing so, cause more harm than anyone could by making it seemingly trendy to say everything and do nothing.
There is a solution for those of you who may be aptly-described by the stereotype. It isn’t all that difficult a solution, either. The key to helping people is to work locally. Stop wasting time (or, as Boris Johnson would put it, “spaffing it up the wall”) sounding off about how bad the Government is, or how much of a cow Theresa May is. Quite frankly, Her Majesty’s Government nor the Prime Minister is going to give a toss what you can fit into 280 characters. Why add your voice to the cacophony of noise that is already in the air when you can make a real, tangible difference locally?
Even in the upper-middle class haven that is St Andrews, there are great pockets of poverty hidden in the nooks and crannies. What also exist is a wealth of organisations desperately in need of help. There are many ways you can actually make a difference and stop being the useless, vacuous, monochromatic person you might already be. Here are but a couple:
Help the Food Bank
As a member of the St Candrews committee, I’m guilty of the charge of probably being biased. However, doesn’t detract from the fact Storehouse NE Fife (the local food bank) gave out over 10,000 food parcels last year to hundreds of needy families across the area. If you want to make a massive difference — more so than venting your frustrations online — then this is one great way to do so.
Helping the food bank takes about as much effort as venting on Twitter, too. Without wanting to make this an advert for a society I have a vested interest in, it’s really not hard to put a can in a collection box. With this said, as with all local good causes, the more you can actually get involved, the better. I mean, if you have as much spare time as some of the folk that rile me up must do, then surely spending a few hours a week making an actual difference won’t be much hassle?
Stop giving money to massive charities
Similar to how grumbling about Mrs May in the form of making a meme has about as much chance of ending poverty as farting in a seagulls face, your contributions to massive, worldwide issues in the form of giving to massive charities aren’t all that likely to make any credible difference whatsoever. Sure, you may feel good about giving £3 a month to Save the Children, but according to GiveWell (an organisation which rates how effective charities use your money) big aid charities are ‘complex and opaque’ — meaning chances are very little of that £3 actually ends up doing good.
If you want to actually help people and not waste your time virtue signalling, give money to smaller, more local charities. As a general rule-of-thumb, charities with a higher proportion of volunteers will do more good with a certain amount of money. Or, better yet, spend your time doing the good yourself directly by volunteering and helping people (or animals, if that’s your thing) directly.
Now, I’m not claiming to be perfect myself. None of us are. It’s impossible to count how many times I’ve rushed across Market Street en route to Buchanan and found myself ignoring the visible social injustices around me. However, I’m honest about that, unlike a great many people who will gladly glance over the homeless and the struggling and consider their moral conscience intact.
Now that I’ve given you some ways to actually help people. I fully expect to see no more holier-than-thou posts on any of my social media. After all, there is no excuse for doing so once you have been granted this information. If you actually want to see poverty relieved, animals re-homed, the beaches cleaned or the great-crested newt saved, get off your Twitter high-horse and actually do something for a change.