by Chris Potter
I've been noting with increasing alarm some of the farther-flung online discussion involving Haiti, and especially the 150 children in an orphanage being staffed by two Pittsburgh-area natives.
I've seen genuine, very heartfelt efforts at saving children get mixed up in misinformation, basic confusion and what look to be political shenanigans, intended to advance careers.
I'm not going to get into ANY of that shit today. There may be a time to dissect the virtues -- and the failings -- of social media, its peril and promise. Just as there will be a time to assess the strength and failings of MSM coverage. But it's not today.
What I want to say for now is this. The one absolutely surefire thing people can do is give money to charitable organizations with a presence on the ground. You can find a list of them here. I personally support Doctors Without Borders, which has a long-standing presence in Haiti and knows the terrain. But there are other good groups out there as well.
Send a check. Pay via credit card. But send money. It's worth FAR more even than grassroots efforts to send blankets -- because you are helping groups able to ship whole WAREHOUSES full of blankets, and do it a lot faster. I know sending money seems cold, impersonal. It feels so much more human, and humane, to send a blanket, or to volunteer to fly down and rescue kids yourself. But honestly -- there are times when checkbook charity is the best kind.
It's not just me who is saying this. It's everyone from the Center for International Disaster Information to George W. Bush.
I actually think there's a real chance that some of this online media is making us less clear on the scope of the tragedy -- just like cable news does. It ain't just Associated Press who has gotten ahead of itself. So have some local blogs.
That's OK -- it's human. It's what happens in the face of a horrific event. But take some deep breaths. And do the one thing that can't possibly be a bad, or useless, idea. Send money. Do it now. If you've already done it, do it again.