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Celebs promote life through death

December 9th, 2010

Some loyal Twitter and Facebook followers may be wondering why their favorite actors and athletes haven’t been checking in lately. 

They haven’t been tweeting or posting because, well, they’re dead. Digitally dead. 

Celebrities banded together this month in a “Digital Life Sacrifice” in honor of World AIDS Day. 

Personalities like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Ryan Seacrest are among those devoting their time and effort to buylife.org, the host of the “Digital Deaths.” 

The object of the mass Twitter and Facebook exodus is to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic and to raise $1 million for Alicia Keys’ charity, Keep A Child Alive. 

Keep A Child Alive was started in 2003 by Leigh Blake, a music industry insider and AIDS research advocate. 

Its predecessor, Red Hot Organization, was founded when Blake’s peers in the music industry started to be afflicted with the HIV/AIDS virus. 

As the years passed, Blake became more involved with Africa and India and built clinics in both countries to help those struggling with the condition. 

When Blake started Keep A Child Alive, singer Alicia Keys approached her about helping with the cause. 

Together, Blake and Keys have raised enough money to provide testing to 250,000 children in India and Africa. 

The foundation also operates three orphanages and major clinics in Mombasa. 

Until donations reach the $1 million mark, the celebs involved have committed to refrain from using social media of any kind. 

Promoters hope that the sudden disappearance of celebrities from sites will awaken people to the cause of eradicating AIDS. 

The virus has been a global epidemic since 1981, when the first case was reported. According to avert.org, an AIDS awareness website, more than 30.8 million adults and 2.5 million children are currently suffering from the virus. 

On Dec. 1, all involved left their “last Tweet and testament” on the Buy Life website. 

Each celebrity received their own video time to discuss the cause. 

All videos were accompanied by either a  cryptic photo of the celebrity posing in a coffin, or a photo that is used to put on display at a funeral. 

Nineteen actors, musicians and athletes have staged their digital death to this point. 

“It’s really important and super-cool to use mediums that we naturally are on,” Keys said.

The website also encourages everyday people to sacrifice their own digital lives. 

Fans and supporters can leave their own “last tweet and testament” through a simple tweet on the site. 

“It’s a bold move,” said freshman Eric Grimaldi. “It definitely is thinking out of the box.” 

The goal is to garner enough donations to hit that $1 million mark, and the goal was reached during the afternoon of Dec. 6, in part because of a generous donation made by billionaire Stewart Rahr, also known as Stewie Rah Rah.  Rahr is the owner of pharmaceutical and generics wholesaler Kinray, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical distributor in the world. 

While the goal has been reached, donations are still encouraged, and can be made through a $10 text message, similar to the method used to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims. 

Fans can also buy a “scannable” T-shirt that features a barcode on the front. 

Family and friends can “scan” the barcode with their phone and upload it to the site to complete their $10 donation. 

For more information about making a donation, visit buylife.org.