Caremongering /kerˌməNGɡ(ə)riNG/

(n) A Facebook group that helps out its local community.

(v) The act of caremongering, as in “Let’s start caremongering.”

Many believe that the coronavirus crisis we face today has brought out the worst in mankind. Memes of toilet paper rolls and videos of people fighting at grocery stores are spreading faster than the virus itself. Yet there are many feel-good stories out there that go unnoticed or hardly get noticed. For example, have you heard of "Caremongering"?

Caremongering is a trend that recently started in Toronto and is now spreading across the communities around the world. Just a quick search led me to groups in the UK, USA, Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Pakistan, and India.

Michigan

Image courtesy Caremongering West Michigan Facebook Group

According to a conservative estimate, over 50 Facebook groups worldwide, called Caremongering groups, are fighting this COVID-19 battle with acts of kindness. Some big, some small, from delivering hot soup to the elderly in the UK to an exercise class held for quarantined residents on their balconies in Spain, thousands are offering help to their local communities. They are making things easier for those who need it the most and who are more at risk of complications related to the virus. Even if they are not using the “Caremongering” brand name, the spirit and the goal is the same.

“Caremongering” is a perfect rebuttal to "scaremongering," which is prevalent today and since the day the news of the coronavirus started spreading. Social media was laden with sensational news—the more macabre the news, the faster it spread. Till a few decided to step in. This movement was started by people stereotyped for kindness. You guessed it—Canadians. 

With the help of Valentina Harper and others, Mita Hans came up with the idea and set up the first “caremongering” group for the surrounding communities.

“Scaremongering is a big problem,” Harper explains, “We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other. It’s spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at risk all the time—now more than ever.”

Malaysia care

Image courtesy Caremongering Malaysia Facebook Group

The posts mostly cover two main topics preceded by hashtags—#iso and #offer. #iso posts are for people “in search of” help, whereas #offer posts are for people offering help. Of course, there are other things happening in the group as well, like discussions creating awareness, giving the latest updates, publicizing which shops are open and what things are available where.

In short, there are two kinds of people in a typical caremongering community—the ones who are offering help and the others who are seeking it.

Help Australia

Image courtesy Zurwa Salman, Australia

If you were wondering how you can help in this global crisis, this is your sign. Start small—start by helping your local community and create a social media group exclusively for the people living around you (including for the neighbor who never said hi to you). Here are a few things people in your group can offer and search for.

  1. If you are heading for groceries or food, you can post in advance when you will head out. People who need something (especially the vulnerable and the elderly) can request help.
  2. If you find something scarce, let people know where it is available. For example, I panicked as we were running out of toilet paper rolls but found them on Amazon. No price hike, great quality, and delivered in a couple of days.
  3. If there are elderly people in your community, ask for volunteers who can offer services like lawn mowing or walking the dogs.
  4. Many around you will be living alone, old and young. Check on them; they could be sick or lonely, scared or just depressed. A few words from you can have a tremendous impact on them.
  5. Create awareness. Things are changing fast, including how to protect yourself and others. Ensure people know the latest—especially if it can save a life.
  6. Don’t share how many are dying or how many are infected. Most are aware, and all of them have other sources where they can get this information from. Stay away from information that falls into scaremongering.
  7. Share if you have something extra, including that barbecue you are planning for Easter. 

“Anxiety, isolation, and lack of hope affect you. In providing this virtual community that allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven’t lost our hope.” — Valentina Harper

Social media in the age of social distancing has now become the biggest line of defense—as well as an offense—against this fight. It is helping us win this war not just by creating awareness; it is helping people stay alive, stay sane, and stay together—even though we are expected to stay apart. Viva Humanity!

If you have ideas about how to help the community or if you need help, tell us in the comments section.