We all know the power of social media to mobilize great throngs of people. We saw the havoc wreaked by social media in London during the riots last summer. We also saw the way social media was used a weapon against tyranny in the Middle East where Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans used social networking to organize revolts against despots.
We know social media can change the world, but can it help the individual beyond making them feel like they have a lot of “online friends”?
I think it can and it does every single day.
Take the case of Amit Gupta. He is the founder of web sites Photojojo and Jelly. He was the darling of the tech world even before he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2011. Then he really got famous.
You might have seen Amit Gupta’s smiling mug posted into your social media stream at one point or another (that’s it, up there at the top of this post). The reason was because he needed a bone marrow transplant and was having trouble finding a donor. Without a matching donor, Amit Gupta was going to die. Period. End of story.
To avoid this fate his friends launched a massive social media campaign to find him a donor. For months they told his tale and spread the message via Facebook, Twitter, Google+; anyplace they could post his picture and information about his situation and ask someone to be tested to see if they were a match.
As a result, Amit Gupta announced today that a match had been found. His life has been saved. All because of the social media campaign his friends launched, managed and maintained in support of him. In addition to his match there were an abundance of ancillary benefits, like the thousands of new bone marrow donors who stepped forward to offer themselves for anyone who they might be a match with.
In this way social media was successful not for bringing in new revenue, or bringing down an evil dictatorship, but in saving one single life.
That makes it the singularly most powerful communication tool humanity has even seen. And truly, I believe the best is still yet to come.
The campaign undoubtedly reached thousands of people and garnered hundreds of new volunteers for bone marrow donor programs.
Gupta announced on his own blog on Wednesday that after “100 drives organized by friends, family, and strangers, celebrity call-outs, a bazillion reblogs (7000+!), tweets, and Facebook posts,” he has found his match.
Sometime Thursday, he will be admitted to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to begin treatments of chemo, receive the donor’s stem cells by IV, receive immunosuppressants and begin a long journey to recovery.