Matt Damon, looking for a way to “persuade people to give a shit about toilets,” staged a press conference in anticipation of World Water Day, March 22. The actor's latest move pushes the continuing efforts of his non-profit, water.org, which educates people about the lack of basic sanitation and clean water for 2.5 billion people around the world.
At the faux press conference, Damon announced that “in protest of this global tragedy … until everyone has access to clean water, I will not go to the bathroom,” and he’s asking everyone to join him at Strikewithme.org.
The aim of the tongue-in-cheek campaign is serious: to move people to click on a link enabling water.org to "occasionally" use their social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook for six week (because physically relieving yourself is comparable to the mental relief felt after posting a status update?)
Damon—who might consider refreshing the campaign for World Toilet Day—added that “Six billion people have cell phones, but only 4.5 billion have access to improved sanitation.”
"Welcome to the petri-dish," said Mike McCamon, water.org's chief community officer. "The idea is you sign in and give permission to us for a finite period." Content will be generic yet personal, "so it looks like you posted it."
Damon hopes the "Strike with me" campaign will draw attention and pressure Washington to revive the stalled Water for the World Act, which would increase funding for projects in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. To keep the initiative interactive, Damon is asking people to donate $25 to the cause and contribute their own Instagram photos in support of the campaign.
A series of videos will appear on You Tube, created by an alliance between Google, Hollywood, social-media mavens and Damon’s advocacy group, all who worked, "pro bono or low bono" to produce the press conference, which used extras as journalists.
Established by the United Nations in 1993, International World Water Day focuses on differeant aspects of freshwater conservation and use each year, with this year's focus being cooperation. One of the many messages promoted last year was the fact that close to one in eight people worldwide would not be able to find or drink one glass of safe water that day and twice as many would not have access to a toilet.
The global water crisis is so pressing that it made the agenda at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos. At the time, a report ranked water among the top five global factors equal in impact to systemic financial failure and fiscal imbalance, with 2.7 billion people affected by water shortages, compounded by climate change and a global population nearing 8 billion. Marking World Toilet Day last year, the Gates Foundation tweeted, "The annual gain in economic productivity if everyone had a toilet is $225B."
Below, watch water.org's video of Damon's mock press event: