Usually, I like to be right. It’s nice to know that I can anticipate the outcome of an event, like a Super Bowl, or predict the “plot twist” in the evening’s 44 minute television crime drama. But today, I sadly say I was right.
You see, it was a year ago that the social media world briefly united, interlocking arms and thrusting #BringBackOurGirls into the top of the trending terms. And for good reason, Nigerian terrorists Boko Haram had boldly snatched away nearly 300 girls from their families in a mass kidnapping that caught the news and inspired outrage in every decent human being on the planet with access to a news feed.
Even as I was tweeting along with everyone else, I knew that #BringBackOurGirls wouldn’t bring back the girls. Boko Haram didn’t pop up over night, and the abductions weren’t their first foray into kidnapping of young girls, nor young boys for that matter. Some social media experts will argue that the bulge of Tweets and Facebook posts brought massive attention to this tragedy and forced action. I saw photos of Michelle Obama holding a sign that read #BringBackOurGirls, and I’m sure that as a parent, her heart ached along with the rest of us. I know that government leaders around the globe had advisers researching what to do.
Could we free these girls through social influence? No. Could we pressure our governments into pressuring other governments in Nigeria and the surrounding region to action. No. Well, yes, maybe we could have. We could have, if the focus remained on #BringBackOurGirls. Now to be fair to the foreign ministers of whichever country you want to point the finger at, and even to the Nigerian government, you have to remember that Boko Haram are terrorists, who kidnap girls and women to enslave them and be used in servitude of their cause. They kidnap boys and men threatening them with death if they don’t adopt the cause and fight along side of them. These people use their kidnap victims as human shields when faced with opposing forces, so imagine how difficult it would be to launch any effective rescue mission, or negotiate any release of the abducted. This is a complicated issue. Acknowledged.
And then our attention was diverted elsewhere, many elsewhere’s.
So here we are, a year later, and I started my day following a link on Twitter, and reading a news story reminding us of the horrific kidnapping, and in the time that I’ve been typing this post, I see that hundreds of new tweets have again shown support in using the hashtag, and again I know that it will do no good. Not unless your support of #BringBackOurGirls is sustained and in tangible form. Write letters to your members of parliament, or senators, or governors, your president, prime minister, or whoever you can. But we have to do it on a sustained basis, and then, some day a long time from now, with continued effort, the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria will be eliminated.
There are thousands of good causes out there that need support, and there’s no way we can support them all, not in meaningful ways. When something strikes you as important, act on it, do something to contribute. I’m not saying don’t tweet it, or post it, or talk about it; But we need to do more than retweet the hashtag for the cause of the day while we wait in the queue for our venti latte or while sitting in the drive-thru for a large double-double, or we risk that as we flit to the next cause and hashtag, that we forget those girls.
I guess I wrote this piece because I feel bad that we didn’t do more, that I didn’t do more. Actions speak louder than words. I guess I learned something: Don’t just talk about doing good or making change, DO IT.