WHAT TO DO WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
The exciting thing about Web 2.0 for me is the very principle of its existence which is being the foundation upon which blocks like citizen journalism, collaboration, empowerment, knowledge sharing, etc. are placed. It is the fact that power is slowly moving back to the people, and people can, using social platforms, demand accountability and good governance from their leaders.
I am Nigerian, and this year my country utilized social media in her elections for the first time. It’s been heart-warming for me to trace the journey of voter registration campaigns, live monitoring of polling centres by people with smart phones, prompt dissemination of information (especially during the post-election crisis), and first hand news of collated , all facilitated via social media and networks, especially Twitter.
I believe Web 2.0 adds three major dimensions to the global women’s empowerment movement, and I’ll explain briefly using the ‘Cancellation of the MAC/Rodarte Line’ based in a small town called Juarez. The full story is here.( http://www.elleuk.com/news/beauty-news/)
1. Worldwide collaboration – the controversy sparked by the impending partnership by MAC and Rodarte was pushed by blogs and discussions over the internet. I imagine that a good number of the bloggers and commentators were not from Juarez; according to New York Fashion e-zine, “all it took was one upset blogger”. (http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/08/mac_cancels_rodarte_line.html)
2. A voice – ordinarily the new makeup line would have sailed, there would have been a big launch, but the rape and molestation of females in Juarez would have continued ‘unknown’ to the world. The outcry via Web 2.0 not only stopped the line, it created awareness of the atrocities females in Juarez suffer, and it raised money for them too! (http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/07/mac_creates_charity_initiative.html)
3. Citizen reporting – again the women in Juarez (or anyone else) who wanted to register their displeasure with the MAC/Rodarte collabo would have had to take their story to traditional media establishments, who might have decided to carry the story or not (based on house style, their ranking of the importance of the story, and even corruption). Social media means that everyone creates and publicizes their own news from their own corners of the world, and that is what those bloggers did.
These tools have empowered me in a variety of ways. As a person, I can champion causes I believe in on my blog, and publicize them via other social networks I belong to. As a student, I can source information from any part of the world, and I can share too. My participation in this Voices of The Future Classroom is another means by which I am increasing my skill. And as a professional, social media affords me the opportunity to collaborate with people, even before any offline communication.
I’m interested in expanding the frontiers of social media usage in my country especially amongst young people because that the more people find their voice using social media, the stronger the voice with which we can creatively collaborate with our government in our quest for good governance.