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Wielding Web 2.0 as a Weapon in the Digital Revolution

A few years ago, a colleague forwarded an email to me containing a video clip of a school-girl having sex on a public bus with a boy, assumed to be her schoolmate. I was sickened to my stomach within seconds of opening the video file.The email came with no warning, no introductory title, no precursor for what I was about to witness, only the incongruous caption, "MUST SEE!!!" (with the extraneous punctuation marks, as if what I was about to see would be even mildly entertaining). I was disgusted and immediately telephoned my colleague to express my feelings. "How could you?!" I demanded. (I needed her to justify how on earth a responsible adult could feel even remotely comfortable 'sharing' that kind of pornographic material.) "You are a TEACHER!" I protested.

Needless to say, the 'act' which had been recorded on a cell phone, presumably, by another teenage boy became a viral 'sensation'.

Fast-forward, three years later, I am working with a group of students in a non-school setting and I have a terrible case of deja-vu when one of the boys in my group captures the up-skirt of a younger, unsuspecting female student on his smartphone. For several days, and still unbeknownst to her, the twelve-year old girl had been at the center of the most vicious ridicule by her peers. After I formally reported the incident to the programme's administrators, much to my dismay, the incident was dismissed without action. "You are over-reacting," I was told. "It's not a big deal."

I resigned the job the following day.

While I'm thrilled to see students embrace innovation and find new avenues to be seen and heard, especially in the developing world where access to technology is still a privilege for many, the case for responsible use of the internet and its many manifestations must constantly be championed. With the advent of ever-changing technologies, including the much-touted Web 2.0, we can do and be much more than just spectators in the digital revolution.

Our generation now has unparallelled access to information and ideas. We literally have, at the tip of our fingers, unlimited entry to vast communities through which we can connect, share, entertain, collaborate, inspire. We can choose to break each other down or build each other up. In this vast space, littered with blogs, chatrooms,wikis, social networks...with Tweeters, and MySpaces, Youtubes, and Linked-Ins... We find each other. We find ourselves.

With the advent of new digital tools and techniques, our generation is beginning to see the world differently. Yet, in our genealogical communities we see the world the same. We see the changes that need to be made in the world. We commit to changing the world. And, in the process, we hope to change ourselves.

As the revolution unfolds, I choose to immerse myself in the power of community. From the arsenal of digital technologies, I choose to wield Web 2.0 as a weapon in the fight to challenge the status quo, to raise questions, to demand answers, to empower young people--especially young women--to see themselves as more than mere pawns in someone else's game. They can change the rules. They can break the rules. They can create their own.

Comments

Klaudia Mexico's picture

A sexist world

Dear Friend
I'm very sorry you have to resign from such great job. I stil don't undestand why our societies are sex led. As you could see on my story I was lucky to inherited great values from the women of my life. But, they also had tried to teach me that women are less valuable than men. So,as you put it we have to change the rules, break them if necessary and create our own.
it was very refreshing to read you.
Klaudia

Klaudia González

IamTruth's picture

Thank you Klaudia. This forum

Thank you Klaudia. This forum proves that regardless of our physical locations, our stories are the same or similar. I am rooting for you on this journey.

Al.

j3ssm3ss's picture

A Cautionary Tale

Thank you for your entry IamTruth - I really enjoyed reading it and thought it was beautifully written. I also found it really refreshing that you consider the way that web 2.0 can be abused and exploited to the detriment of women, not just its positive possibilities. I was especially shocked when you revealed the sender of the youtube link was a teacher!! Speaking from your personal experience really resonates with all of us who are lucky to have access to digital media (and who are also regularly bombarded with content exploiting women as if it were acceptable).

I totally agree that we need to strive both for ourselves and to encourage others to use the web as a force for good, and simultaneously to avoid passively accepting or even actively finding amusement in demeaning content online, normalising and condoning negative and damaging attitudes and practices in the process. I think "weapon" is a very appropriate analogy - dangerous in the wrong hands.

What I would love to hear more of is some concrete examples of how this technology is, or could be, used as a tool to empower women - both for yourself, in your community or in the future of women's empowerment.

Keep writing! I'm looking forward to the next one :)

IamTruth's picture

Dear J: Thank you for

Dear J:

Thank you for affirming my story. I appreciate the clarity and conciseness of your feedback and will strive to absorb your feedback in future assignments.

I really do look forward to hearing and sharing more of your perspective.

Best regards,

IamTruth

(Al)

tracimichelle8's picture

Creating our own rules

I really appreciate your entry Iamtruth. I think it is vitally important that we create our own rules in allignment with love for all. It is so easy to follow the masses and not question what is happening around us. Thank-you for questioning and standing for Truth (as your beautiful name states).

I embrace your dedication to using the web as a force for good. There is so much potential there. I would also love to hear more of how you think this tool can contribute to positive change in your personal life, your community and/or the world.

Thank-you for your entry and I am looking forward to hearing more from you!
Joyfully,
Traci

IamTruth's picture

Dear Tracy: Thank you for

Dear Tracy:

Thank you for reading my entry and giving positive, constructive feedback. In my future assignments, I hope to use the opportunity to outline my ideas for change and will be looking forward to your comments.

Blessings,

IamTruth

(Al)

Nadz's picture

Hello

I read your entry and I can relate to those stories of women being shamed as the biggest whores on campus for example on the Internet, or videos of young women and men engaged in sexual activity being circulated for entertainment without consideration for the shame and embarrassment those involved suffer. I am happy you were brave enough to resign.

Life is just for living

IamTruth's picture

Indeed, life is just for living

Nadz:

These words are resonating with me, even now. When we take a stand for our beliefs, we affirm the values on which our lives are based. It is not always easy, but for many of us, it is the sacrifice we must make in order for change to take place.

After watching your presentation on Impact last night, I want you to know that I am proud that you stand resolute.

Highest Regards,

Al

busayo's picture

Inspiring!

Hello I amTruth,
Your writing is so inspiring and the you brought out that instead of using web 2.0 to pull each other down, it should be used to build each other up is very inspiring. Keep up the good and continue to stand for the truth.

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

IamTruth's picture

I feel empowered

Dear Busayo:

Thank you my sister. Your encouragement is empowering.

Blessings

IamTruth

Monica09's picture

Different post

I enjoyed reading your post because it talked about Web 2.0 from a different angle which is so important for us to address. In Bangladesh, for example, social media pages insulting women are common, and the government does not seem to be doing anything about it.

Keep writing!

Best wishes,
Monica

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