Web 2.0: Empowering those who don’t have access to it
I have been an active user of Web 2.0 for quite a while now, and I have to say I’m not entirely convinced by it. Surely the way people communicate has been revolutionized by the advent of Web 2.0, not to mention how much cheaper, environmentally friendly and borderless communication has become as a result of it. But having used social media tools, social networking, and blogging technologies for years now in an attempt to spread awareness for action, I’ve come to realize that my success as an activist cannot and should not be defined by the tools I use at the expense at the cause I’m trying to advocate for.
If you would have asked me what excites me most about Web 2.0 a couple of years ago, my answer would have been “it’s exciting because it allows me to connect with many people easily, share with them my ideas and attempt to get them on my side”. My answer today, however, would be quite different. What I would really like to do with Web 2.0 is use it to call people to true action, and when I say true action, I’m not talking about liking an article I’ve written or link I’ve posted, or commenting positively on a politically inclined picture I’ve made my profile picture. I’m talking about true, genuine, grassroots level action.
Surely Web 2.0 can work as an important tool for bringing about solutions to the global women's empowerment movement, but that’s all it’s really going to be… a tool; Web 2.0 is not a solution within itself. At most, it can be part of a solution if it actually brings about viable results to our empowerment movement. It is very important for us to realize, especially as women activists, that our results will be defined by the solutions we bring about in our communities via action and results on the ground. For example, writing an article about female genital mutilation can spread awareness, but a viable solution would be getting decision makers to pass a law that makes FGM illegal. At present, there is so much hype around Facebook and Twitter, especially due to the fact that the uprisings are being dubbed “the Facebook/Twitter revolutions”, and I’m afraid that the work of amazing grassroots-level women leaders is being muffled because of this.
Maybe it’s just my community, but the (s)heros I’m familiar with do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. In fact, the majority of them aren’t even computer literate, let alone have a blog. Most of them are not citizen journalists because they are too busy being active citizens. And for me, to have access to the internet, to be familiar with Web 2.0 tools, and to already be a bona-fide citizen journalist, I can’t help but to think that I’m missing the point if I’m using such tools to just empower myself. To me, Web 2.0 can only be empowering if I use my access to it to empower access-less women offline.