Why I Am Not Silent Today

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As many of you know, a very large percentage of bloggers have chosen to go silent today, participating in For Japan With Love, created by the owners of the blogs ever ours and Utterly Engaged.

This is an amazing act by these two bloggers, and those who have participated – a selfless act that has at the time of this post raised over $38,000 for Shelter Box USA, a group that provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most. Each large green ShelterBox is tailored to a specific disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. A whole box costs $1,000 which means that by the end of today, I bet this event will give at least 50 families what they need to survive after this horrible tragedy in Japan.

I think For Japan With Love is a wonderful act and I am so glad that Shelter Box has received so many donations. It is so amazing to see the huge heart, the power, and the love within the blogging community, and how bloggers have rallied together to support such a noble cause. However I have chosen to NOT go silent on my blog.

Last Friday, I woke to hear the horrific news of the earthquake and tsunami. I raced to Twitter, knowing I could find the most up-to-date information on the tragedy and was disgusted to see my blog feed choked with tweets about runway collections, what pants to wear with flatforms, and how to rock nautical stripes. I chose to not tweet about anything not event-related that morning because I felt it was in poor form. It reminded me of when 9/11 happened.

On September 11, 2001 I was working as the visual merchandiser for the Express in Annapolis Mall. Our music system broke the day prior so we were making do with a boom box on the sales floor, tuned to a Top 40 station. I was busy prepping the store for 10am when the phone rang – it was my sister. She sounded strange, her voice high-pitched and a bit hysterical. “The Capitol is on fire. DC is on fire,” she told me. I didn’t understand and told her some of our staff never showed up that morning so I had to help the manager open the store. I hung up and continued with my business. When it was 10am, I turned on that boom box and had a hard time trying to find music. I then heard Tom Brokaw’s voice – Tom Brokaw is never on the radio so I stopped to listen and learned about the tragedy.

We made an executive decision to shut the store and go home to be with our loved ones. Our customers had a different idea. I remember getting into a shouting match with a woman who refused to leave, telling me she had a “big date” that night and MUST get a new outfit. I told her I doubted she would be going on that date, tried to tell her what had happened to the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. She brushed me off and said she didn’t care, she needed an outfit. I eventually got her out of the store, but not without her asking for my boss’ number, claiming that she would “have my job” for “ruining her day.”

I have felt this past week that many fellow fashion bloggers were like that woman in Express – aware of what is going on but refusing to dwell on it for fear it will “ruin her day.” This week, many brave bloggers have come out writing about what is happening in Japan, some mentioning how other bloggers had their head in the sand and were ignoring what was happening in the world. I considered writing about it many times, but knew I wouldn’t be as eloquent as they, and also worried that my post would look as though I was trying to make money/gain traffic from the tragedy. Instead, I retweeted the amazing posts, I donated to Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and Shelter Box my month’s income from the blog, and I prayed.

After some popular bloggers mentioned this “head in the sand” mentality of their peers, many bloggers started writing about Japan. Some wrote because it was the right time for them to voice their feelings, some wrote in defense. And some wrote because they saw it as an opportunity to improve their Klout score.

One of the many reasons I have chosen to not participate today is because I feel that some bloggers are doing it just for the “cool kids are doing it” factor. I see bloggers who completely ignored Tweets about the tsunami last Friday, now going silent today (but not silent on Twitter and Facebook). I see them posting about For Japan With Love, but using it as a way to promote their Twitter and Facebook pages.

I feel that this wonderful blogger event has become a Livestrong bracelet – my husband had testicular cancer at the time those bracelets came out; our friends, family and I all wore one in solidarity. Next thing you knew, it became a weird fashion piece with folks not even understanding the reason behind it.

That doesn't mean all bloggers are this way, I know MOST are participating for honest, selfless reasons. I love the community of bloggers and how they will rally together to support an important cause. I support For Japan With Love because I KNOW it was created with LOVE. When I woke this morning to see a very quiet Twitter and a very quiet Google Reader, my heart swelled with pride at being part of such a community of amazing people.

However, I choose not to participate because I feel I would out of peer pressure, not because I feel it is important. What I do feel is important is for people to be aware, people to care, and people to do what they can, on their terms to help those in need. If you can give, please do. If you cannot, well I have seen the power of prayer and positive thoughts; I have seen great change happen from positive people with positive vibes. I ask you to give, I ask you to care in the way that seems most right to you.

22 Comments

  1. March 24, 2011 / 6:25 pm

    I think it is a bit harsh saying all bloggers not reporting on Japan or still blogging/ tweeting as usual arent being respectful of the disasters. I have not blogged about Japan as I write a fashion blog- I only blog on fashion. This doesn’t mean I do not care and have not donated, I just prefer to keep any charity work private. I am sure everyone who wants to can donate without me having to post red cross links etc. I blogged today about comic relief another very important cause, but only because it had a fashion aspect. How about the travesties going on in Libya? Innocent people are being killed every day and yet I haven’t heard this mentioned on any blog. I hadn’t heard about the Silence until I just sat down to read my blog roll and I didn’t know about the bloggers doing it for publicity, that is really awful!

  2. March 24, 2011 / 6:25 pm

    Thank you for your honest and authentic opinion – I felt the same way about a lot of bloggers who were doing it for the “cool” factor. The important thing is doing what is in your power to help – whether that be donating, praying, blogging, or whatever. I agree with you – just do it bc you want to and not bc it’s the trendy thing to do.

  3. March 24, 2011 / 6:25 pm

    Very good post, Allie, and it truly makes me feel a bit better for not participating in the blogger silence day OR blogging about the disaster. I have donated money and I follow the news from Japan closely, but like Pearl, this is something I prefer to keep private.

  4. March 24, 2011 / 6:25 pm

    Really well said indeed. I didn’t write anything about Japan on my fashion blog because at first I didn’t really know what to write, it’s too big and tragic an event to really know what to say or do. And then I felt the moment had passed and I’d just be jumping onto some bandwagon. I have talked about it in real life and in other unconnected places on the internet, but the fashion blog is not the place for it, I feel.

  5. March 21, 2011 / 10:59 am

    Really well said indeed. I didn’t write anything about Japan on my fashion blog because at first I didn’t really know what to write, it’s too big and tragic an event to really know what to say or do. And then I felt the moment had passed and I’d just be jumping onto some bandwagon. I have talked about it in real life and in other unconnected places on the internet, but the fashion blog is not the place for it, I feel.

  6. March 21, 2011 / 1:25 am

    This was well said — though I don’t want to bash on what anyone else is doing. I didn’t understand how being silent raised awareness, just because not talking about it seems to bury it.

    I didn’t blog about it because it honestly renders me speechless… I can’t think about it. I don’t know what to say. I am so astonished.

  7. March 21, 2011 / 12:48 am

    I didn’t not post, in part because I dislike feeling pressured into doing something just because everyone else is. I also dislike the idea that my actions (or non-actions) become the litmus by which others can judge my reaction or commitment to an issue. I chose not to talk about Japan on my blog not because I didn’t care, but because the events are very personal to me as a military child who has many friends stationed in the country. My blog isn’t a distillation of my whole life, and there are things I chose to keep private. This time, my worry and grief was one of them. I appreciate everyone who does post, as I can only hope that more exposure leads to greater awareness, but I appreciate even more the people who followed through on that awareness by taking non-blog action.

    You reacted to the Livestrong bracelets the same way I react to “Support Our Troops” stickers on cars. I’ve known far too many people who buy a sticker and then do nothing else to see them as a symbol of anything other than the minimum amount of effort.

  8. March 20, 2011 / 11:13 pm

    I didn’t see your post until way after the fact since I’ve been on a no-internet kick for a while [yay camping! :0)] but I agree. I’ve been following the news closely and have done as much as I can possibly do to help but I haven’t posted about it because I don’t feel like it does anything. I find that some of the bloggers who post about these tragedies are doing it for the popularity. I don’t even think it’s for awareness – who doesn’t know about the Japanese Disaster?

    Thanks for keeping it real, Allie. ;0]

  9. Anonymous
    March 19, 2011 / 11:30 pm

    Allie –

    Thanks for putting your thoughts on this out there. I think you are completely right – a lot of bloggers are getting on the Silence bandwagon as a tool for increasing popularity – and I am so over it. I read numerous blogs – and lately they all feel the same with their cross posting and name dropping. Thank you for being real – being you – and staying true to the focus of your blog, always.

  10. Anonymous
    March 19, 2011 / 2:39 pm

    I’m sorry…I think your blog is great, but I have to say that I find it a bit tacky to talk about your own charitable contributions.

  11. March 19, 2011 / 11:35 am

    Allie – please keep posting about the things that matter. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    Bx

  12. March 19, 2011 / 10:47 am

    Very good post, Allie, and it truly makes me feel a bit better for not participating in the blogger silence day OR blogging about the disaster. I have donated money and I follow the news from Japan closely, but like Pearl, this is something I prefer to keep private.

  13. March 19, 2011 / 5:07 am

    I have to agree with you, Allie. There are so many things about charity that make it not so charitable at all. It has become bragging rights, advertisements, fashion, compensation, etc.

    I understand the idea of raising awareness, but at some point, everyone wants on the wagon to save face.

    We don’t have pink t-shirts, and I think the only ones we would ever buy are Save the TaTas (They are just so darn funny!) For this very reason, we don’t write donations off on our taxes. What’s the point? Then I’m just making the gov donate on my behalf. Just another example of taking charity out of charity.

    Peer pressure isn’t cool, even for charity.

  14. March 19, 2011 / 4:03 am

    Yeah, I gave everyone a link to the non-posting day stuff yesterday and posted about Rush today.

    I don’t care to be pushed into writing or not writing about anything particular at any particular time.

  15. March 19, 2011 / 12:56 am

    Thank you for your honest and authentic opinion – I felt the same way about a lot of bloggers who were doing it for the “cool” factor. The important thing is doing what is in your power to help – whether that be donating, praying, blogging, or whatever. I agree with you – just do it bc you want to and not bc it’s the trendy thing to do.

  16. March 19, 2011 / 12:04 am

    As you know, I’m Japanese but I don’t live in Japan. This whole thing worries me so much. However, when I called my parents, they told me that the best thing I could do for them is to go about my business as usual.

    I believe it’s not about whether or not you participate in some event. It’s not even about whether you donate or not. It’s about how you feel inside. Thank you for your prayers and your well wishes. They truly mean a lot.

  17. March 18, 2011 / 8:47 pm

    I don’t think anyone needs to do anything with social media. And really, as you said Pearl, this isn’t the only tragedy that is taking place right now on this planet. I think I even wrote this out of peer pressure, and was tempted to not even write it because it made me feel like I was in a sorority all over again, having to justify my actions and thoughts if they weren’t the same as others.

    And DWJ, I fear the same thing as well. I don’t want the tragedy of others to become some blog gimmick. 🙁 It’s a big reason why I don’t usually do posts about breast cancer month – why buy an overpriced pink tee shirt to pad the wallets of some dude and give a little bit of money to a charity? Does it really take a certain month or pretty pink purchase to make people care?

    I think this is the last time I post about such things. I trust you readers to be intelligent, aware women who know what is happening in the world, give a damn about it, and know what is best to do about it.

  18. March 18, 2011 / 8:15 pm

    I think it is a bit harsh saying all bloggers not reporting on Japan or still blogging/ tweeting as usual arent being respectful of the disasters. I have not blogged about Japan as I write a fashion blog- I only blog on fashion. This doesn’t mean I do not care and have not donated, I just prefer to keep any charity work private. I am sure everyone who wants to can donate without me having to post red cross links etc. I blogged today about comic relief another very important cause, but only because it had a fashion aspect. How about the travesties going on in Libya? Innocent people are being killed every day and yet I haven’t heard this mentioned on any blog. I hadn’t heard about the Silence until I just sat down to read my blog roll and I didn’t know about the bloggers doing it for publicity, that is really awful!

  19. March 18, 2011 / 7:59 pm

    I loved your post.
    Very heartfelt.

  20. March 18, 2011 / 7:49 pm

    I didn’t participate either, not that I don’t care but I’ve given money to Red Cross and done my own thing. I don’t ever like for people to feel that they have to and I felt like this would quickly become a way to get a blog’s name on a long list. Funny thing is, I posted late yesterday and didn’t post this morning and someone emailed to ask me if I was being silent for Japan. No, just being busy. It also makes me worry that with every disaster people will want to do something like this that might turn into a gimmick and I just don’t want to even start doing that. Sigh…

  21. March 18, 2011 / 7:49 pm

    Wow, really great post! I appreciate your honesty!

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