This year, 20,000 people are expected to participate in the $1.50-a-day living challenge, in support of the 1.2 billion people who have no choice but to take that challenge every day.
Social media is playing a large role in this event. Numerous celebrities, including Ben Affleck, Tom Hiddelston and Jonah Hill are living off $1.50 a day for five days and tweeting their efforts at #LiveBelowTheLine, a campaign run by the Global Poverty Project. Hiddelston even tweeted pictures of what $7.50 a week will buy.
The challenge doesn’t officially start until April 29, but the campaign has already raised over $150,000. GPP board member Hugh Jackman started the campaign last year, raising $3 million. Internet marketing companies should watch and learn, especially when dealing with charitable and nonprofit clients and all the great causes they support.
The Internet and social media are creating a web of interconnectedness that allows disparate memes to butt heads in ways that weren’t possible before. Anything can affect anything else. In this case it’s celebrities and extreme poverty, two worlds that could not be further apart. Poverty has traditionally been swept under the rug in American society – something hidden, private, something to be ashamed of. It’s a topic that has brought an awkward chill to many a chatty dinner party.
Unfortunately, hiding problems and refusing to ask for help rarely makes them go away. But now, more people are sharing every aspect of their lives, good, bad, professional, personal – and stuff we really wish they weren’t – on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This level of transparency can be put to work. Hollywood and the Global Poverty Project understand that. By creating the $1.50-a-day living challenge and getting famous faces and their Twitter account involved, the general public gained a new level of understanding of what it’s like to live in extreme poverty. We should all take a couple days to Live Below the Line ourselves and share the results of our efforts, since awareness and empathy are the best assets we have (next to, you know, incentive) for making people act for the good.