Social media's good 'virus' of volunteerism

During that sad period when provinces were left wallowing in water, the social media played a huge role in helping ease people's suffering.

From finding volunteers to fill sandbags, cook food, seek donations, make rafts of life vests, to developing informative websites and producing video clips or just cleaning up in the aftermath, the all-pervasive social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, have inarguably become champions in keeping people abreast of what's happening.

Tweets like "I'm free to volunteer today, where should I go?" and "Where can I drop off my contributions?" were common during the crisis. The power of the social media combined with like-minded volunteers entered into every aspect of the response to the crisis - people pitched in whether they had the expertise or not.

Apart from government offices and mainstream media, private-sector groups also earned the public's trust.

Paramate Minsiri's "thaiflood" group was very good at providing minute-by-minute information on the deluge as well as coordinating relief efforts via its website, Twitter and Facebook.

SiamArsa was yet another outstanding group that helped raise funds, collected donations and brought volunteers together. Like thaiflood, the SiamArsa group has learned from its past experiences.

Many groups emerged based on locations and needs such as the Aor Mor Tor set up by Thammasat University's students union, and thonflood set up by residents in the Thon Buri side of Bangkok.

Help also extended to pets as animal lovers met

via social media to feed stray cats and dogs as well as

rescue stranded ones in flooded areas.

In short, almost each and every affected area had a group to fight for their cause. This included the group "Roo Su Flood" (Knowledge to Fight Flood), which started producing and releasing informative animated clips via YouTube. The clips later started doing the rounds on social media and even television, obviously striking a chord with the public as records show that it was watched more than 700,000 times one night.

As the floods have receded, restoration work is in full swing. A non-profit social enterprise called "Plajapian" is offering flood victims a fishing rod instead of fish, so to speak. Their mission is to help add extra value to products or services already offered by flood-hit communities by improving package designs and marketing via online channels using fair-trade practices and principles.

The social media will certainly continue spreading the "virus" of volunteering, and thanks to this "infection" Thailand will hopefully continue witnessing good deeds from individuals.