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Can this blog build peace? Can this tweet?

19 September 2011 9 Comments

Caroline

By Caroline Anderson
Blog and Social Media Manager

During the spring of 2005, when I was complaining in the college dining hall about how much I hated my computer science course, I never would have dreamed that a mere six years later new media technology would be my passion.  But lo and behold, it is!  My transformation has something (or everything) to do with the fact that I figured out you can change the world with media tools, and that learning javascript and html can be useful for promoting peacebuilding and other causes I believe in.

I’m so blessed that I have the opportunity to work at Peace X Peace, an organization that shares my belief that the ability of interactive communication technology to connect people across borders can be leveraged for the pursuit of peace.  But there’s one catch – new media is a constantly shifting field, both in how we understand it and how it operates.  It is incredibly difficult to study, and the tips and tricks for how best to use it change based on who you ask and what context you are speaking about.

This truth, of which I had been aware from both practical and academic experience, was underscored for me again on Friday, when I attended a United States Institute of Peace (USIP) event, “Sifting Fact from Fiction: The Role of Social Media in Conflict.”The competing opinions I heard there on what role social media can play in creating conflict and building peace got me thinking about Peace X Peace’s mission: how it’s wrapped up in the use of social media tools, and how the changing landscape of these tools might also shift how we use them to achieve our goals.

Now, because discussions of new and social media inevitably generate as many questions as they do answers (and because users often determine the answers), I turn to you, dear readers, to help me out.  How do you think we can best use social media tools to build peace?  How do you reach out to others?  Using Facebook?  On a blog?  Do you write letters?  Pick up the phone?  Type out an SMS?

The USIP event left me with tons to think about, and I’d love your thoughts to help me process mine and make Peace X Peace even more effective at building peace!

Enhanced by ZemantaThe views and opinions expressed on the Peace X Peace staff blog are those of the individual staff members, and do not necessarily represent the organization.


About the Author

Caroline Anderson is the Blog and Social Media Manager at Peace X Peace. To reach Caroline, email caroline@peacexpeace.org.
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9 Comments to “Can this blog build peace? Can this tweet?”
  1. Angie says:

    My first thought was the use of youtube and videos. I have participated in other organisations global peace cards and meditaitons-coordinated at the same time so as to create a sense of unity. This has been pretty amazing. I enjoy your posting of stories of how members are promoting peace. However, how would this relate to me who has a different job, set of goals, geographical location but still wants to promote peace within my own community, somehow? I would look for skill based videos; for example sharing meditations, inner work, drumming, etc. that can be used as tools in facilitating first-inner peace and then sharing this with others as a way of learning different methods of connecting. How do your Peace by Peace members achieve their motivation? If we are inspired by their stories, what can they share as tools for us to use? What keeps them driving forward and also grounded? Social media is about sharing knowledge, resources and gaining or unifying interests. Share away! Also i think the mentor/mentee program is great and am considering applying as a mentee. I’m a new expatriate in Egypt and really falling in love with the Middle East, but find the divide between the two cultures pretty standard here. I’ve enjoyed your postings on twitter and facebook!

  2. I facebook, blog, and tweet…especially from travels and conferences. I post notes for those who could not be in my footsteps on that day…or in the footsteps of noble people past…with my own personal commentary. It’s a new venture (just beginning last year), but my aim is to educate, engage, and inspire. It’s my way of giving back–through the free dissemination of beneficial knowledge which is often reserved for those who can afford to pay a certain price. Social media takes all the obstacles of wealth, time, place, and space away. Here’s an example of what I do–my notes from last week’s United for Change Conference in DC…next year, I hope PeacexPeace will be there! You wouldn’t be out of place!: http://wbabdullah.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/notes-from-the-united-for-change-conference/

  3. Caroline says:

    Angie, thank you SO MUCH for this thoughtful response. It’s given me a lot to work with and bring back to the rest of the team. As we move forward I will remember that we need to take connections to the next level, beyond inspiration and understanding, and into concrete ways that our readers can build peace in their own communities.

    And ps – Please apply to be a mentee1 We would love to have you!

  4. Caroline says:

    And W.B., Thank you for the tip on the United for Change Conference! We will keep it in mind for next year.

  5. Deb Reich says:

    I’ve been thinking lately: As a mother of young children, years ago, I learned (painfully) that, if one of them came home angry or hurt at another child’s behavior, aside from comforting them, I needed to get the facts straight before phoning some other mom to complain or explain. My kid’s idea of what happened was rarely the complete picture. –I think that, similarly, we often respond viscerally to negative stuff we read on social media and we want to react without checking first. We have all seen the spiraling anger in comment sections online. I wonder what others’ experience has been in terms of stopping and looking more thoroughly into something before responding… A site like Peace X Peace makes it easy, doing all the hard work for us! But there’s so much out there that isn’t moderated or vetted…

  6. The one problem I often see in social media is that, with some notable exceptions, it is more media than social. Most people these days can post a message or do a youtube video, but I see a lot of talking around each other and announcing to the world in social media groups. Announcing isn’t necessarily one group or business dropping into another with the latest news of their own concern, but that individualized concern that wants only to be heard. I have been doing this (one version or another of social media) since 1994 and I know it takes a lot of work, and sometimes training, to be able to shape a bunch of participants into a group. That’s the weakness I see everywhere and it is most undermining if peace is the goal.

    I also know PeaceXPeace works hard to avoid those pitfalls, so keep it up. It is what needs doing.

  7. Makgatla Thepa says:

    Social Media has become a powerful tool to reach out to the society. even those who find it difficult to express themselves face to face find comfort in raising their views, either discomfort about the governement system, or offer solutions to the dillemas be, social ills, Conflicts around the globe to those situations. I have observed how many young people especialy where condemning the Conflicts in Libya, raising their genuine concerns about the need for unity and peace in that country. on social media we speak our minds freely without fear because often we regard social media as broad global platform to speak our minds. now coming to your Question Caroline, i defenetly think that creating groups and discussion documents about peace on facebook and tweeter can realy help in achieving the world peace. i have have personaly participated in many groups on facebook that are global and adress global issue, and trust me it is fulfilling and fun at the same time. having an opportunity to articulate your views with young people that you share similar vision about the kind of world you want is very fulfilling. so i say social media can realy promote world peace. and thank you for your thougtful well written blog.

  8. Caroline says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments! I am bowled over. What I’m hearing is that we need to use social media to create “strong ties,” rather than “weak ties.” To use it as a starting out point for creating relationships, not as an end point. I hope we can continue to do that (and to do it better and better!) at Peace X Peace.

  9. manjula says:

    dear caroline

    peace is the need of hour. but unless people are educated,financially self reliant and spiritually awakened we can not hope of having peace anywhere. poverty, lack of clarity about religious beliefs and misguidance by political leaders subvert the attempt of peaceloving people all over the world.

    hope we achieve peace in our life time.

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