People have responded to the disaster in Japan in myriad ways via social media, just as they have in real life. Some have tweeted and blogged about it, some haven’t. Some people care passionately about what’s happening in the world, some continue to be entirely engrossed in their own lives.
Several fashion bloggers, including the gorgeous and very eloquent Citizen Rosebud, have been disappointed that their fellow bloggers haven’t focused more on the topic. I understand that. It’s shocking to be deeply affected by a disaster yet see that life goes on for the majority of people. At some point, all of us will feel that shock on a personal level. No one is immune to a terrible medical diagnosis, death, divorce, or the myriad other life-shattering events that make us feel that nothing should never be the same. Our shock can turn into rage as we rail against our own helplessness and the world’s perceived indifference. I remember going to Atlanta not long after 9/11 and being stunned that no one was talking about the World Trade Center all day. I’m sure many people in Atlanta talked about it plenty, sat glued to the TV and made donations, but by the time I got there, people seemed to be going about their business. Later, I thought, what else would they be doing? Exactly what behavior would help at that point?
I’m not sure fashion bloggers are a more superficial group than any other or that they have been more negligent in their responses to current events. ESPN continues to broadcast sports, rather than earthquake coverage, (At the same time, sports organizations such as Major League Baseball are raising money for relief efforts.) I went to a basketball game last night and there was no moment of silence and no reference to Japan or any of the many other crises going on in the world. The fans were happily cheering their team and booing the opposition, while eating hot dogs and drinking beer. Were they oblivious to reality or just taking a well-deserved break? I can’t say.
I’ve written before that human nature has stayed depressingly the same for millennia; it’s society that changes. We’ll always have the equivalent of the four sons in the Passover Haggadah: the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who doesn’t even know how to ask a question. We can’t always tell one from the other based on externals such as physical appearance, television viewing habits, event attendance, overheard conversations or social media use. I’m not going to judge anyone based on whether or not he or she feels capable of addressing the Japanese situation on his or her fashion blog .. or sports or book or reality-television blog. But I do have a little something for “the one who doesn’t even know how to ask a question,” or, in this case, the fashion blogger who is affected but at a loss about how to react appropriately. You don’t have to say a word. Just donate what you can to the aid effort yourself, then display this graphic that my gorgeous friend ENC was kind enough to make for us.
Click on that and it will take you to a page I created with links to charity and news sources, but you are welcome to change the link to go to your own informative page, to another source’s similar content, or directly to your favorite charity — whatever works for you. If you care, yet words fail you, use this image to show your solidarity with the people of Japan and encourage others to get involved in whatever way they can.
UPDATED TO ADD: Just to play devil’s advocate with myself, another option is to do … nothing, right now. The New York Times has a good story on how little direction charities have at this point. Saundra Schimmelpfennig, a former international aid worker who writes the excellent blog Good Intentions Are Not Enough, which I’ve mentioned before, says of Japan: “They are working almost exclusively with other governments, not with international charities,” she said. As Schimmelpfennig wrote in her post The DOs and DON’Ts of Disaster Donations, you might consider holding off on any donations till later in the rebuilding process. She says, “Rebuilding after a disaster takes years, waiting a few weeks or months before donating everything you plan to give will allow you to make additional funding decisions once the situation on the ground is clearer.”
If you can’t bear to wait, do what gorgeous blogger Jennine did:
“I donated to the Red Cross, but checked the ‘where funds are most needed’ box … So maybe the money went to Japan, but it seems like there is money needed in a lot of places, not just where the headlines are. I used to work with ARC [American Red Cross] disaster relief, so I think it’ll go where it needs to go.”
And here’s another suggestion via gorgeous blogger Jessica of The Entertaining House. Lydia of Ever Ours and the ladies of Utterly Engaged set up For Japan With Love to collect donations for ShelterBox, which happens to be one of the charities on my list. (The first ShelterBoxes to arrive in Japan are scheduled to be heading out to those in need today.) They are also calling for a bloggers’ day of silence tomorrow. Click the graphic for more information.
Penny Dreadful Vintage says
Great idea Wendy. Just wondering if you could link a few non-US based charities on your page as well? We all have international readers so it would be great if we could make it as easy as possible for people to donate.
Good point. I will do it asap.
Hi my dear I’ve just donated to Save The Children, it is so sad and tragic what Japan is going through at the moment-all donations, big or small will make a difference. xxx
They seem like a good organization!
Good morning Wendy- recently something discussed that remaining emotionally involved with a disaster that occurred somewhere else to someone else is a distinctly American phenomenon. I hope we never lose it, since it reflects the charity that is also part of our national character. What a great idea for the badge- its brilliant.
Collette Osuna says
Greta post Wendy…Ive donated to the Red Cross for those in need and Im snagging one of these badges for my “partners page”….thank you:)
Collette Osuna says
I dont see the code for the badge? hmm….am I blind?
It is just a jpeg to save and paste in. Will that work or do I need to get fancier? I recently had to use someone else’s joeg this way so I hope it is okay.
I have been so worried about my friend in Niigata (who is missing friends in the affected area) that I haven’t even thought about blogging about the goings on in Japan.
I have fallen out of the blogging habit recently due to being busy with creative activities. I think I made a post last night just to get my mind OFF the news since I have been following it closely.
Maybe others are doing the same…carrying on with interests and life because it helps them not go all depressed and crazy about the news we are getting from Japan?
I am glad you posted the link to help out and that you did post about what is going on. 🙂
I’ve been wondering where you were blog-wise! I hope your friend hears from her friends. Really scary.
If I were still blogging, I would not advertise the fact that I donated to relief efforts in Japan, just as I did not advertise the donation I gave to Haiti last year. While I can see an upside to mentioning it–it might remind someone who was intending to donate to do so, or make people aware of certain charities–it can also seem a bit self-serving. I choose to read certain blogs because the people behind them seem like intelligent and thoughtful people, and I would assume that they are aware of the crisis and dealing with it as best they can in their own way.
I should add, though, that I think the badge is a nice way to make people aware without having to say anything.
I think it would be pretty lousy to pressure everyone into revealing what causes they gave to and how much (if you’re not personally conducting a fundraiser). On the other hand, peer pressure is an effective tool. Still, I made the badge with a generic message to promote how to donate rather than saying “I helped…”. I do think it would make sense to donate personally before instructing others to do so!
Helen F says
What a thoughtful post
Wendy, I understand your points of view and I agree with them.
Keeping your efforts to one self works for me!
Donating money, time, etc while continue to do your own thing is as important as writing about (if you choose to)!
Done and done! Thanks!
This is how you add a badge:
Go to your widgets (if you use WordPress, drag a text widget to your sidebar)
Copy and past this and add the info leaving the “” quotation marks:
remove the parentheses! Oops!
damnit wendy! Sorry! Can’t get the html code to not disappear!
Ooh I can see it all on the email alert for your comment!
Ha ha! I will work on it as soon as I am near a computer instead of this ornery iPhone.
many apologies to Wendy! I am no coding expert but I finally figured it out!
This is how you add a badge:
Go to your widgets (if you use WordPress, drag a text widget to your sidebar)
Copy and paste this and add the info:
<a title=”hover text here” href=”http://web site the image goes to”></a>
Oh, crap, I’m still not figuring this out. I’m going to ask my programmer.
We’ve been horribly sick since last Wednesday so I haven’t done much blogging or anything online. I generally keep my donation discussions centered on Twitter or Facebook rather than have them as a part of my site. Not for any particular reason other than it just seems more effective to me that way.
I’m looking at a few different groups to donate to as I’ve heard some hit or miss information about Red Cross. But I did donate to and am following along with the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue group – http://japanearthquakeanimalrelief.chipin.com/japan-earthquake-animal-rescue-and-support
Yeah, the Red Cross comes in for a lot of criticism. I’m not sure if it’s deserved or it’s just that the biggest organizations get the most grief. I have to look into it more. Thanks for the link and feel better!
Thanks so much for creating this badge. So simple but a great idea!!! I’ve added the badge with a custom link on my blog. Thanks again!
Yes, the Huffington Post page has good info on it.
belle de ville says
Beladora.com and Beladora2.com are donating a portion of all March sales to the Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief Fund.
Excellent! Wish I were in the market for some jewelry 😉
Just to let you know there ARE bloggers out there who are blogging for Japan. About 250+ so far are participating in For Japan With Love – Day of Silence… http://www.theentertaininghouse.com/2011/03/for-japan-with-love-bloggers-day-of.html
I think what they have started is fabulous and I was so happy to participate!
Beautifully Invisible says
Thank you so much for this post, Wendy, and for the graphic. I’ll be adding it to my page. I am participating in For Japan with love + Day of Silence, but I think that whatever anyone chooses to do (or not to do), it’s wonderful for them to have resources like this at their disposal.
you may or may not want to add this as well, it includes a direct donation link to the Japanese Red Cross: http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html
The Preppy Princess says
Oh Wendy, this is why I think the world of you. You articulate perfectly how many of us in Oklahoma City felt for a long time after that bombing. I love that you raised the issue of not just *what* to do, but the debate about *if* there is something concrete to do for the people of Japan.
You know from my posts the last week how saddened I am by the devastation, thank you for doing this.
Sending you a smile and a hug,
I remember exactly where I was when we learned of the Oklahoma City bombing. I was still in journalism and I can see clearly where in the office I was sitting and to whom I was speaking. We thought it was some kind of gas/industrial explosion at first. We just couldn’t believe there would be a bomb that big.
like most folks, i have been able to think of little else than the disaster in japan. we are all so vulnerable on planet earth, and we never know what will happen. the only good thing to come out of this is to know that people care, and that they want to help. at least i think that applies to MOST people, even if they don\’t blog about it.
I like to think it applies to most people too. Even if it doesn’t…I’ll keep thinking it 😉
Thanks for this thoughtful post about the myriad of reactions that Japan has provoked among tweeters and bloggers, and not being judgemental about any of them. I’ve avoided talking about Japan on my blog. One of my friends from salsa is from Sendai originally, and during the first few days of the quake she was worried sick about her brother and mother who still live there. Thankfully they’re both fine, but there were a couple of scary days where she didn’t know. It seems inadequate and presumptuous to talk about it publicly when I’m so removed from the situation, while for others there’s that sense of painful immediacy. In the end I just donated to the Red Cross and restricted my online babble to a couple of tweets and comments on my Sendai friend’s Facebook updates.
So glad your friend’s family is safe. How terrifying!
You have a kind heart and like Bella, articulate your thoughts beautifully.
I sincerely hope your efforts do actually touch the hearts of those who haven’t already donated.
Maybe it’s the reserved Brit in me but I prefer to keep my efforts to myself. x
Don’t blame you at all for keeping your business to yourself. A lot of people do that. I used to feel that that was the very best form of charity — to do it for no recognition. I still think so but, having gotten involved with nonprofit fundraising, I have to talk up the cause to organize other people. That said, I don’t think anyone who isn’t an organizer should be obligated to share all of his or her charitable activity with the world.
Susan Tiner says
I got my little badge up! It looks cute.
Great post Wendy. You are a wonderful journalist who always brings awareness in a very relatable way. I’m waiting to see where the funds will be needed most in a couple of weeks when the media attention lags and (perhaps) a bit of charity fatigue sets in. But it’s important to follow the story and the mechanisms for helping. Thank you for all of your awareness-raising.
Hmmm. This is an interesting post. Maybe fashion bloggers do get a bad rep for being superficial and perhaps negligent in their response to disasters but as you pointed out, basketball keeps being played, SXSW goes on, and so on… Sometimes I feel like saying ‘I care’ is the easy way out of actually DOING something. I will not be posting today because I don’t want to come across as disrespectful. Though admittedly, I am a bit torn over the matter… what exactly is this day of silence accomplishing? It seems like a bit of a pat on the back to ourselves for caring enough not to post… and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I can hardly grasp the depth of this tragedy and I know there are many who are eager to do whatever small thing they can in order to help.
I agree with many that donations are a private thing though I can see your point that peer pressure can be used in positive ways. I think it’ll be crucial to still care after the Tweets have stopped coming in and after this blogger day of silence… Japan needs help now but it will probably need more help in a year when all the news agencies have left. Perhaps donate to Haiti or give blood today…
You and I think alike…The day of silence stuff has never been my thing, though I shared it here for those who want to participate. I’m sure the argument is that it raises awareness, but whenever I’ve had to raise awareness for a cause, I usually do it through talking, not shutting up. 🙂
I was strangely disturbed by the devastation in Japan. Having visited the country when I was a teen, and being an adult studying Goju Ryu (Okinawan) karate, I have a strong tie and much affinity for the cultures of these two countries.
I can’t figure out why I feel so depressed; I don’t know anyone in either country, and I haven’t been to Japan in more then twenty years. Yet . . . I just want to burst into tears. I’m angry and sad, and I feel helpless.
I’ve donated three times, through three different entities, including my own dojo, and yet I feel I haven’t made a single small dent.
I’m bereft. And unable to really “do” anything. Throwing money at the problem is really about all I can hope for now.
I hope people take the badge and use it to do good things. 🙂
I am a bit late, but just wanted to say thank you for this very balanced post. I know I came over bizarrely defensive on Bella’s blog when all I wanted to say was what you have said here: “I’m not going to judge anyone based on whether or not he or she feels capable of addressing the Japanese situation on his or her fashion blog .. or sports or book or reality-television blog.” But whatever people do that gets as many people to donate as possible is good with me!
Thought provoking post. I would never want anyone/followers to think I did not have compassion for those suffering in Japan because I did not take part in the day of silence or urge people through my blog to donate to relief. Of course I am thinking of all those families without homes, food, shelter…it is truly heart wrenching……truth be told it just didn’t seem like the right vehicle-
I didn’t want to pretend that my blog is something that it is not. It is a light hearted fashion blog about staying on trend as a new mom….
Maybe I would feel differently if my blog were more multi dimensional and I shared other things/opinions about life or serious economical/social issues etc…but the reality is, it is strictly a fashion focused, outfit posting, easy read blog.
Although I did personally donate, I didn’t feel it necessary to share that…
All that said…. you have a really great point, that the posts (even if they seem off topic) raise awareness and potentially help raise more funds…
I think each blogger/blog has to do what feels right to them.
I love that everyone is still so involved. I feel like all too often the coverage dies down and people forget!
Chic 'n Cheap Living says
I totally agree and blogged about it last week during last week’s blog day of silence. But I also included a few links of retailers who were giving 100% of proceeds from specific items to various charities. I’m glad it was an IFB links a la mode link and hope to keep on adding to the post.
Thanks for the information. Though it’s kind of after-the-fact at this point, have you heard of Socks for Japan? It’s an organization based in Sano (just on the outside of the devastated areas) that has been collecting new, clean socks and letters of care, that they distribute to victims still stuck in the shelters.
Please check out http://jasonkelly.com/helpjapan for information on the organization – and on their main page is page after page of their expeditions into the worst zones of damage. It’s absolutely heartrending to see the devastation so up-close. As soon as I heard about them, I sent 38 pairs of socks and care letters – and they posted a photo of a woman in one of the shelters holding one of the letters I sent! (http://www.chic-steals.com/2011/03/the-socks-i-sent-to-japan-arrived.html)
I thought it was pretty amazing that an organization like this, small that it is, actually does what it sets out to do, and provides photographic proof of the need and the gratitude from the other side of the world. It’s a great way to stay connected, even as the issues in Japan fade from the news here in the U.S…