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The environment can be better because of us

30 Sep 2020 / 02:14 H.

    MANY of us may have heard of TikTok, a platform mainly for sharing short videos. Users come up with their own funky dance moves together with a short music clip and issue a so-called dance challenge to see who can do it better. Once the video clip received a lot of attention, other users would attempt to remake the dance, making the dances viral on the internet.

    According to TikTok, one of the most popular dance challenges – called “Renegade” – was recreated by over 30 million users.

    Well and good. But why is nobody making a “I collected a bag of garbage by the beach” or “I didn’t use plastic for the past six months” challenge? If millions of dance challengers joined the above “environmental” challenges, I’m sure it would make a great difference and our environment would be less polluted.

    During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when every one was urged to wash their hands frequently, a Vietnamese man created a TikTok dance challenge that incorporated dance moves related to washing hands.

    It quickly went viral. Even Unicef shared the video on their official page.

    It goes to show that making educational messages in a fun way would be better accepted by the younger generations.

    The potential for such challenges to spread awareness of important issues we are now facing is high.

    This may move the needle of social support for taking up much needed action to clean up the environment.

    Because of the pandemic, every one has been forced to stay at home and work from home, factories have been shut down, and the streets have been empty.

    To everyone’s surprise, the canals in Venice became clear, the skies became clear without all the air pollution, and even wild animals were strolling on the streets.

    Many said that Earth is better off without us humans, but since we still can’t live on Mars, why don’t we think about it this way: maybe the environment can be better because of us.

    Here is a question for everyone: when was the last time you saw a public service announcement (PSA) about saving our environment? Most people would choose to simply skip, avoid or ignore PSAs, maybe because they are not as entertaining as watching comedy videos.

    The media have tried to educate people through interesting forms of storytelling.

    A great example of this would be the movie Aquaman. Did anyone notice that it carries an important environmental message?

    In the movie, the Mermen who live under the sea try to kill humans for polluting their oceans, while Aquaman, a child of a Merman and a human, tries to address the dilemma and bring the two worlds together.

    Throughout the movie, we could clearly see footages of how the sea was being polluted by tonnes of garbage, plastic waste and petroleum leakage that kill many sea creatures.

    Many would agree that this is a great movie as it is full of action, suspense, romance and all you would expect from a superhero movie, but the real question is, how many people got the environment message?

    These footages were not made up props or computer-generated images, they are like mirrors that reflect the society we live in today: our environment is screaming at us, it needs our help and attention. The media should be doing more than just provide entertainment, for they are crucial in transmitting messages to large groups of audience.

    Having specific channels that focus on our environment is not enough to educate the people.

    Since they have the power to choose what they like to watch, people wouldn’t tune into those channels purposely to get informed and educated. But if the educational messages are like advertisements that show up in between commercial breaks, then they might receive more attention.

    Better yet is when young people today use TikTok to create the dance challenges that spread the message about the environment.

    It is often hard to change and adopt new habits, but for the sake of our future and future generations, we must change by making better use of the technology we have.

    Joyce Yong Hui Yee is a Bachelor of Communication student at Berjaya University College.

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