I’ve recently found myself mass-unfollowing people on social media. And it’s not because I dislike them. Nor is it because I think what they have to say is not valuable. Rather, it’s because what most people have to say is actually pretty worth listening to.
What? Social media posts are worthwhile?
Yes, let me explain.
About every 3-5 posts on Facebook someone will share an article or write a post that might come across as “preachy.” Whether they are left, right, religious or atheist, everyone has an angle to share.
And, for the most part, what they are sharing is rooted in something that is true and worth listening to. Some of the most enlightening conversations I’ve had are with people with whom I completely disagree.
So, if all these people are sharing about important issues, then why am I tuning them out?
The truth is, every time someone shares an opinion, I usually say to myself, “Hmm, they make a really good point. I should think about that more.” And, after a while, I have several different voices floating around my head. This poses a problem.
Because the cacophony of voices is so great, I then find it difficult to know which voices are the most worth listening to.
So, now I’ve reduced my intake of voices by mass-unfollowing people. But that still leaves me with a problem. Of the more manageable number of voices I now listen to, how do I discern which advice should most influence my daily life?
Here’s my simple answer to that question: rank-order.
If 10 people are suggesting I care about something, it’s important that I rank those suggestions from best to worst. For example, if one person is saying that I should care about the planet and another is saying that I should care about police brutality, it’s on me to decide which of those things deserve my attention the most.
Please note that I am not ranking the importance of the issues themselves. They are all very important. I am merely ranking my personal ability to do something about those issues.
I decide this by weighing the seriousness of the issue against my ability to make a material difference about said issue.
So, while I believe that taking care of the planet is undeniably important, I have a hard time knowing what more I can contribute besides making a few adjustments to my consumption habits. And even if I were to go to extreme lengths to minimize my personal carbon footprint, the net effect on the planet would be negligible, to say the least.
So, it’s not that I don’t care about the planet. I do! I want our planet to be happy and healthy. I’m just insanely practical about what I can personally contribute to that specific cause.
On the contrary, there is an issue where I feel like I’m able to make a meaningful impact given my personal ability and resources. If you know me, you won’t be surprised to learn that that issue is “global poverty.”
When I talk about global poverty, I’m talking about the issues that face the poorest half of the planet. Roughly speaking, this means any human on our earth surviving on less than $3 per day.
While some of these people face complex issues, many of their issues fall into the categories of “simple” and “fixable.” It’s a mere resource problem.
Malaria would be a good example to showcase what I mean by a simple and fixable problem. Half a million people (mostly kids) die from malaria every year. And many millions more don’t die, but still lose weeks of productivity because they are suffering from this disease.
Obviously, it would be very challenging to solve malaria absolutely. But that is not my main concern. My main concern is what my personal contribution can be to the lives of real people.
I learned many years ago that providing mosquito nets to villagers in Sub Saharan Africa is a great way to reduce the impact of Malaria. When 70% of a village sleeps under mosquito nets at night, the malaria rate in that village drops by 90%. And it only costs about $10 to provide someone with a mosquito net! That’s a lot of lives impacted with a small amount of money. An amount of money that I am actually able to contribute, which will then go on to both save lives and improve the quality of life for real humans right now.
So, you see, it’s not that I don’t care about the issues that people are sharing about online. I think most of them are very important. But it’s also important for each one of us to rank-order our options in life and focus on the issues where we can make the greatest impact.
For me, I haven’t found a social issue that comes close to matching the dollar-for-dollar impact I am able to personally make with global poverty. That is why I started DonorSee. I wanted others to feel like they could make a substantial difference in the world. And getting involved in global poverty gives them the opportunity to do that.
Otherwise, you might find yourself obsessing about things that you can’t control and that will just make you hopeless. And hopeless people, unfortunately, don’t accomplish very much.
On the other hand, people who believe they can make a difference, often do.
P.S. There are many ways you can make a difference in people’s lives right now on donorsee.com
P.P.S. Read my book to learn the story about how I was first exposed to global poverty: IfThePoorWereNextDoor.com