How the power of social media was harnessed to save lives

Actor Bhumi Pednekar who has been actively helping out the Covid-19 patients writes exclusively for HT City about her experience
Actor Bhumi Pednekar talks about how she has been using social media to help people amid the second wave of the pandemic.
Actor Bhumi Pednekar talks about how she has been using social media to help people amid the second wave of the pandemic.
Updated on May 25, 2021 11:45 AM IST
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ByBhumi Pednekar

I have always believed that evolution of human kind to reach a digital world can’t be detrimental to us or our planet. How can a tool as strong as social media be negative when it actually has the power to bring about change and growth through the millions it reaches? It’s the most connected humanity has ever been in its history. And we would be fools if we don’t use this medium to our benefit.

For me even with my past initiatives, the biggest one being Climate Warrior until now, where I use my different social media platforms for advocacy on climate change and its adverse effects, I’ve come to realise now more than ever that my biggest resource today is the connect that I have through my social media. It’s my own personal war room in our fight against the Covid19 virus. It has connected me the most wonderful people, who on my single tweet jumped in to help, educated me, helped me spread awareness, raise funds, helped people in need to reach out to us from remotest parts of the country. It has helped me create a community of over 350 volunteers who selflessly want to serve humanity. All in a few weeks. It has been one of my most empowering and humbling experiences and has awakened my faith in humanity again.

It all started with the horror my family and I went through when we all contracted the virus. It was tough as we had it bad with the disease but what made it tougher was my mother’s hospitalisation. From that first call where we were told we need to admit her to arranging plasma for her to all the frenzy that came with it, it wasn’t easy. Even with all the help I had it wasn’t easy. As family members we are worried, confused and panicked. I am not complaining because I was fortunate that I had people that came out and guided me through this. But how many would be as lucky? They don’t have the soft power or privilege that I had earned through my work. I had to give back and not in kind this time. I realised that it’s time to get out there, on ground in this digital age. My social media handles became my battle ground and biggest aid to provide relief to as many people who were in need. I started by going through my DM’s, sharing one plasma request, not knowing if it would work. I didn’t have to wait long and had a message saying the patient found a donor and that is how it started. Within minutes my DM’s were full of requests with people tagging me for potential leads. And not long after on that day, I connected with like-minded influencers doing the same work in their respective cities. The next day it went from plasma and medication to beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, breast milk donors, blood platelets and many critical SOS calls.

From that one social media platform I used, it reached to creating 11 different groups on WhatsApp that work pan India with volunteers from across the globe working 24/7 trying to help people with anything that is in our capacity. Through various platforms people reach out to us, we amplify the requests while we work on individual cases making sure they get the help they need. Many good Samaritans join in the case/s and send us leads, extend help and it is this synchronised energy and network of people connected through the internet exchanging resources and information that has actually made this relief effort possible.

I have never ever felt this connected with humanity, never felt this protected, supported and loved. I have never felt this empowered and courageous.

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Monday, December 06, 2021