Saturday, May 29, 2010

Social Media, the way I see it…

I have spent a considerable amount of time on particular sites, namely, Facebook and Twitter. Admittingly, I consider most of that time as wasted, having said that, I mostly didn’t have anything better to do with that time anyway. However, with a reasonably large number of friends on Facebook and a growing number of followers on Twitter, my digital “reach” is in constant growth. Which brings me to the next point…

During the War on Gaza – late 2008, early 2009 – I have found Facebook as a strong medium to reflect to the world what’s really happening there. When I say “the world” I’m of course referring to my multinational friends and acquaintances living in various parts of the world. Naturally I wasn’t the only one doing that. Overall and in a culmination of these efforts, this has enormously helped to mount a counter PR campaign to the massive one Israel launched worldwide to justify its assault. In fact, the campaign using Facebook was so successful it was covered by major channels like Aljazeera and BBC. Some anti-war Facebook groups were even hacked by some Israelis, removing all anti-war sentiment from it, displaying their own logo.

Looking at the aftermath of Israel’s war on Gaza, it is clear that Israel has undoubtedly lost the PR aspect of that war. People’s Facebook pages were bombarded with pictures of Gazan children and mothers in morgues, burnt and mutilated due to the bombing and white-phosphorus use, as well as the shelling of UN buildings and warehouses storing aide. Israel paid millions of dollars for an army of PR strategists and experts, spokesmen and representatives, all to justify, explain and make the “case”. And it miserably lost, largely thanks to hundreds of people scattered around the world posting the atrocities committed on their social media pages, sharing them with the rest of the world, for free. Then people found out that what their seeing on their local news channels and what their seeing on their Facebook pages were vastly different. People found out, some perhaps for the first time, that their being deceived.

Those in the Arab and Muslim World who oppose the use of Twitter or Facebook because of various reasons, some valid, some ridiculous, are urged to look at it from a different perspective. Instead of dubbing something you don’t fully understand as an enemy, why not understand it, harness its power, and use it for your own cause.

I do not claim that my entire interest in social media is fully attributed to our cause or is entirely politically driven. I do not claim that I, alone, can or will make a difference. I do, however, try my best to utilize these extremely powerful tools to alert as many people in the world as I can reach that something is horribly wrong with what’s happening in this conflict. This is not some form of brain washing, this is simply a shared distribution of the truth.

If, for example, I succeed in enlightening one person out of 50 of my Facebook friends about the true situation in the occupied lands, I can claim a small victory in this ongoing battle. And ultimately, this victory is not for my glory, it is for the sake of the millions in Palestine who suffer every second of every day in their open-air prisons.

The “enemy” has mastered the use of conventional printed and visual media. The problem with conventional media is that it’s unidirectional, the media provider talks to the customer in a one way stream. The information is always fed, hardly disputed. With the introduction and popularity of social media, the conventional form of media is becoming a dying breed. Not only can “customers” now read the news and get information from this media, they can actively engage it as well, commenting, posting, liking, enriching it with ideas and perspectives. Others can see this and share their own views or learn from what they’ve seen or read.

It’s a multimedia information frenzy out there saturating the insatiable minds of today’s younger generation. With a little nudge with a perspective of truth towards the right direction, this media can have uses of epic proportions.

If they have mastered yesterday’s media world, let’s master the future’s one.

UPDATE: Came across this site today, more proof of the importance of what my entry talks about.

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