VOF Week 1: (Living in a '2.0' World - The Web of Interacting Voices)
As the weather is finally warming in Toronto, Canada, I set off on my first outdoor run of the season. And as I so often do on these runs, I let my thoughts guide the way.
I smiled and greeted my fellow open-air junkies, but was met mostly with silence and blank stares; and it occurred to me, as it has on several previous occasions, that I am living in a culture where we have been socialized to sooner address our neighbours with bowed heads than acknowledge their presence and risk the potential “awkwardness” that might ensue thereafter.
An otherwise uneventful hour of exercise led me to the realization that our world can be an intimidating place, populated by “strangers” who, although with good intentions, bright ideas, and noteworthy voices, may be hesitant to make that initial face-to-face connection.
Whether we share backyards or are distanced by continents, the time has arrived to raise our heads and our voices. There is something remarkably exciting about Web 2.0 and that is its ability to transcend borders and open the floor for discussion – in an unprecedented way – encouraging “regular” people to publicly speak up and out on matters of concern.
Web 2.0 is a mechanism leading us into a new era of journalism, one where we are afforded a more detailed and intimate account of what is taking place in our world. The narratives relayed via citizen journalism are more organic because they are emitted directly from the source rather than by way of third party journalists who are sent to report on the story, but who have rarely lived the story themselves.
What is more extraordinary, Web 2.0 has the ability to relieve the aforementioned anxiety experienced by citizens (particularly women who have lived under the rule of ‘to be seen and not heard’) accustomed to more traditional methods of public discourse. One of our community members, in her entry titled “A Woman’s Voice”, evidenced that our individual journeys to find our words will vary, but that our collective passion for writing is infectious and breeds the kind of cheerleading necessary to evoke progressive change.
Because Web 2.0 empowers other women, it is consequently self-empowering. It provides me with knowledge I would not otherwise be party to, and the resolve to openly reflect on said knowledge. It begs me to ask more questions and to communicate on a wider and deeper level, and it reaffirms the truth that we are on this journey together.
Thus, ‘to be seen and not heard’ will no longer suffice for today’s women, and Web 2.0 is seeing to it that those actively engaged in the women’s empowerment movement have a safe and positive platform on which to stand and confidently project their voices. In our VOF group, alone, we are privileged with a diverse representation of women from around the world. By way of this newfound courage and means with which to address the public, solutions to global issues we face may effectively follow.