Friday, April 8, 2011

Mao's Wall and Social Media, sustainability of the human experience.

The role of social media in the environmental movement, or any movement a all - Egypt, Iran, China, etc. - is about starting a conversation, building a community learning/knowledge platform, and generating activities from the grassroots up to really challenge the status quo and make a difference.

I consider the “Discussion Boards,” that started the Cultural Revolution in China, and subsequently sent thousands to their death or re-education, a form of Social Media.

But today, in the US and most of the world, we have a lost sense of social media intricately combined with the powers of the Internet and various computing devices. In much of the US, social media is trendy, high-tech, and sometimes about nothing with significant substance: what did Kim Kardashian have for lunch today?

Social Media, to me, in the truest form, is about bringing people together on a topic and uniting the consensus to overturn the established norms put in place for the benefits of the few, the rich, the careless. Social Media is about using our high-tech devices to generate a collective and existential question we must ask ourselves: where do we see ourselves in the future as a specie, a steward of Earth.

There are company sponsored social media. These are powered by marketing campaigns structured around products or political messages. These are “Peer Review for Profit” social media, This type of “Social Media” is part of the established norms for the benefits of the few, the rich, and the careless. This is the kind of social media that influences the masses who stands for nothing, who will fall for anything.

On the other side is the type of Social Media that makes social media sexy and dangerous. This is the kind of social media that exist not for the sake of politics or product sales. This is the Social Media in ListServs of human rights lawyers; private forums for scientists to discuss their views on Sustainability; this is the Social Media on Twitter that raised over $70,000 for cancer research in one day. This is the kind of Social Media that gives our conversations substance, helps us learn and grow, and get us away from our daily routines to do something good for our society. 

I learned from a good friend that a conversation can change the world. Many social media and marketing companies often miss this very point. Social marketing and viral marketing is effective not because technology has made it so, but because technology made that conversation available. The Internet is littered with unnecessary conversations these days. We have wasted so much time paying attention to this useless information.

Our job and responsibility is to stop this deterioration and help generate positive cooperation.  

Social Media is not about technology, not about trends, not about meaningless things that does nothing for the Human Experience. To me, Social Media is about a Conversation, about Learning, about making a difference – for our environment and for our fellow human beings; for Earth.


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