By Brian Dooling
The cons of the growing addiction of social media is the disconnect people have from nature, especially as younger children spend more and more time on computers and mobile devices, they miss out on the world just outside their window. However, social media doesn’t have to be an enemy of nature, it can be a vital tool to connect people to the world beyond their backyard. This is what a new Facebook app called Wild Me is trying to do, as they develop a way for Facebook users to friend actual endangered animals.
The new app that launched this month translates scientific data, observation, and photos of individual animals into a social media page, which then can be friended by Facebook users. At the time of the launch, you could friend almost 5,000 whale sharks but also polar bears and manta rays as well, with the promise of more species being added often. Once friends with an individual animal, you can see updates to their page similar to your fellow human friends including new photos, location updates, and some of them even have nicknames.
The app developer, Jason Holmberg, explains to the Washington Post why the app is important, stating “we want people to see these animals as individuals worth conserving…To do that, we wanted a social media network that can span space, time – and species.”
Wild Me is not the first conservation effort to use social media but it would be one of the first to actually make the conservation effort a part of social network. Not only does this new app have the ability to bring awareness to conservation efforts, it also acts as a translator of scientific research to the public making a great learning tool as well. The app puts the cute pictures that attract so many to conservation with actual facts and research.
Jeffery Hallo, a Clemson University researcher tells the Washington Post that “establishing meaningful connections between the public and wildlife is key to effective, long-term conservation efforts.”
By Wild Me anthropomorphizing these endangered species into friends and social media users, it brings conservation into the new world of social networking and hopefully a new era of increased wildlife conservation.
The app developers are currently looking to raise money via an Indiegroup campaign to further expand their new social network by including more animals, data, and by making its interface more interactive. Their current goal is $20,000 by Jan. 31, 2014. More....