THE BIEBERISATION OF CHARITY

Teenagers

All of last week, people who would otherwise fill their Facebook walls with pictures of kittens, googly eyed memes and various spellings of omgz lolz, began to post a video about the Ugandan warlord, Kony. While the increasingly interesting debate about oversimplification, western meddling and Invisible Children themselves rages on, there is something inherently amusing about how people who can't point out Uganda on a map suddenly become experts on the Great Lakes region of Africa as soon as Justin Bieber tweets about it.

The Bieber's tweeting powers have always been undisputed in their effect on teenage girls, but it's interesting to see the effect he has been having on the fortunes of various charitable organisations. Unlike stars like Bono and Paul McCartney, who have been known to give away millions of dollars to charity, Justing Bieber seems to be making an impact by using just the media and his 18 million followers on Twitter.

In January, a young Canadian girl waiting for a lung transplant sent him a tweet saying "“Hey @justinbieber! I BELIEB you should use that Canadian voice of yours and help save lives like mine #beanorgandonor #giveblood”. After a couple of tweets and a request to his army of followers to spread the word, the organisation she was campaigning for saw a huge spike in donations, with four times as many registrations as normal. His 17th birthday turned into a $47,000 collection drive for Charity Water. Even the haircut that transformed him from "What exactly is that?" to regular teenage boy was milked for charity, with his locks being auctioned off for various organisations, eventually raising over $40,000. The numbers aren't huge, but they are interesting because many of the donations come from teen and preteen girls, whose earlier contributions went as far as scout cookies.

So should we be proud that he is influencing little girls to look outside their own worlds, or be concerned about the blind celebrity worship behind it all? Whatever the answer, there seems to be more to the boy than his looks.

 

Image: via Justin Bieber's twitter