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#Firstworldproblems in Haiti?

October 8, 2012
Have you seen this ad for the Haitian NGO “Water of Life?” It has Haitians reading #firstworldproblems tweets, from places that look like they have bigger problems, like crumbling buildings or abandoned school yards.

To me, the way this ad presents Haitians is pretty great. They are real people, with a sense of humor and irony, intelligence, and knowledge of the world beyond them. Do they use Twitter on a daily basis? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the idea is so far-fetched to them, or that they don’t know about the internet or social media.

On the other hand, I’m not sure making fun of people to guilt them into giving makes for a longterm relationship with donors. The ad’s a great social education tool, that will be used for years to mess with young Sociology majors’ minds, but unless it’s followed up with ads that are increasingly nuanced and insightful, I’m not sure if it will build a solid donor base. Plus, I’m not a big twitter user, but aren’t the people who use this #firstworldproblems hashtag making fun of themselves, and pointing out that their problems aren’t really that important? Those seem like the people you’d want to engage, not insult.

Donor engagement and fundraising questions aside, I was happy to see an ad that made viewers think about the problems people around the world face, while avoiding poverty porn or playing into a savior complex.
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