Hashtags or Help. Social media support or real world support?

For the second time in my life, a social media campaign/assault has directly effected me, my way of life and something that is a very important part of my life.

The first time was in 2010 when Spillers Records was struggling and closure seemed like a very real possibility.

I am a proud regular of the shop, and have been for nearly 15 years, back in the summer of 2010, through one thing and another (story is well covered across the web, I need not dredge it back up) there was a very real threat of Spillers closing. As it happens, I walked in when BBC1 came to the (old) shop to get some interviews, they had done a few, then spoke to me. I spoke my mind, the news team, said, “That’s perfect.” left soon after and I was the only ‘customer’ interview.

The main thing that bothered me about the whole situation was the petitions, the Facebook groups, the hashtags, the social media support out pouring. I did not sign a petition to “Save Spillers”, I did not voice my support about “…how important it was to save a piece of Cardiff’s history…”, I said only one thing,

“Stop talking and buy some fucking records!”

Anyone who knows me, knows how much money I have spent in the shop(s) over the years (if its not coming close to 5 figures by now, I would be surprised), the friendship I have with the family, how proud I am of designing their 2012 calendar, how much it makes me smile that there are photos of me in the shop…yet I still didn’t sign a petition, or join a Facebook group. I showed my support the way it mattered, by (continually)spending money.

It is 2012, and now the second social media campaign has come around. This time it is #savelepub.

Le Pub is a small, independently run live music venue in Newport. Le Pub, much like Spillers, has a place in my heart and place in my life. I would not have some/many of the friends I do right now if it weren’t for gigs (attended and played) there. I would not have seen some of my favourite gigs, if it didn’t exist. I realise that is a strange statement, but there is something magical in the community spirit that exists surrounding that place, that just doesn’t exist in any other venue I have frequented. I have been to dozens of free (yes FREE!) shows, where I know the venue paid the bands as well. The bi-annual Stars in their Eyes competitions always raises pots of cash for charity!

When the news of Le Pub’s potential closure reared its head, the social network support was frightening for a small venue in South Wales.

At the time, news had gotten out how much it would cost for the manager, Sam, to buy the venue she has been running for the last decade or so, I tweeted.

“I would gladly give (Sam) a tenner to #savelepub.”

This bounced around the community with around 20 or some re-tweets…

I also said on my Facebook as above, but with the added “…there has to be 2000 people in this world who have been to a free show who should consider it a late door charge.”

About a week ago, they announce a crowd funder account to get the £20,000 needed to keep the venue alive and open. When it was announced, I was the 3rd person to donate money (go look if you want, I’m mrp2049). As it stands 85 “funders” have donated just over of £2000.

There are 350 people who have shared the page on Facebook, countless Facebook posts, hundreds (probably thousands) of hash tagged tweets, but only 85 who have actually stuck their hand in their pocket and offered some money to support the cause.

A friend tweeted,

“Hash-tag all you want but it’s the money that really counts. PLEASE DONATE…”

He has donated money too, good man!

When discussing this blog post with a friend, she said,

“The danger of petitions and now hashtags are people believe they are helping but are really doing nothing.

They like to talk but are unwilling to put in real time/money/effort.

The tag makes them feel like they’re part of it, in with the crowd, the get the bragging rights and kudos, but then do nothing.

People like to talk

Twitter just makes a traceable record of the bullshit and posturing.”

I couldn’t have put it better if I tried.

So, here in lies my point…

If you care about something, do not, DO NOT sit at home behind your computer or mobile in one hand, designer coffee in the other posting things on the net thinking it makes a world of difference. Hashtags, petitions, online campaigns are easy to be a part of, it is a click or a few keystrokes. If you truly want to make a difference to a local business in trouble/struggling or even a cause of any description, do something more, show you care and want to support it in the way they need.

Hashtags are good, help is better.

12. July 2012 by Michael Partridge
Categories: General, Personal | Leave a comment

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