Monday, July 11, 2011

Social media as a tool for social change

Saturday July 9, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young students at the Obafemi Awolowo University who are members of the Young and Emerging Leaders Initiative (YELI) on the need to use social media to positively engage their communities and spheres of influence. In my talk I made reference to the impact of social networks in the events of the Arab Spring and how it helped in the monitoring of Nigeria’s elections in 2011.
I thereafter challenged the group of eager young people to create blogs, Twitter handles and Facebook pages in order to bring attention to social ills in their community and environment. I told them how messages on social media platforms can be used to galvanize public opinion among young people and what they can do to begin making use of the mobile internet platforms that they have, to engage their circle of friends positively.

I’m glad to write that the message was received enthusiastically and with time I hope that these young Nigerians will see themselves as change makers and begin to ask tough questions. I asked them to ask, why? Why do things have to be the way they are, why can’t things be better? I believe the best way to begin change is to ask, why?  It is the questioning mind that gets answers.

I concluded by saying this: “One thing that has to be understood is that social media in itself does not make change. It is the person behind the computer, the lady holding the Blackberry, the young man hooking up to YouTube that makes change happen. It is from your mind that change happens from where it is transferred to your network. It is in your mind first where the yearning for change begins. It is what you feed your mind with that will feed your social network. Let change begin from your mind and let us transform our community and our nation with it. It is the only way we can hold everyone to account for the enormous trust we put in them.”

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