At home and with our phones, social media is an easy escape during coronavirus shut downs, but people are discovering more than just the latest memes – they’re actively trying to help out their neighbors.
“People really need one another and it’s the natural place for them to turn,” says Emily Dalton Smith, who is in charge of Facebook’s Social Impact Products.
After noticing an uptick in people helping each other in various posts, Facebook decided to build a special section called Community Help.
“You can browse posts and see what kind of support your neighbors need, you can donate to fundraisers, or you can even ask for help from your community yourself,” explained Smith.
All of the posts you see are in a 5 to 50 mile radius of where you live; categories include food, information and supplies.
“This is a way for people to find their neighbors who they may not even know and understand what they’re going through and give back to them in a small local way,” said Smith.
Volunteer platform Golden has created a new section of its site called Mutual Aid. Its aim is to help people find ways to help others with basic tasks they might not be able to complete themselves. Things like picking up groceries, delivering meals or even a simple check up on someone in need.
Neighborhood website Nextdoor is seeing nearly 80% more usage.
“Neighbors are coming together to help one another with grocery purchases, running errands to pick up medicines for seniors and elderly neighbors, and just getting on a phone call with a lonely neighbor,” explained Prakash Janakiraman, co-founder of Nextdoor.
The site recently released two new features: Groups for specialized topic discussions and a Help Map where you can mark yourself as someone who’s willing to pitch in to help others.
“It’s really highlighted the kindness and neighborliness and helpfulness that exists latent in all of our communities,” said Janakiraman.
Bottom line: In a time when just about everything else has stopped down, tech has never been more instrumental in connecting people with the information, entertainment and social connections critical during this time of need.
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