Recently, I’ve been particularly struck by the micro-communities that have been popping up during conferences, and the conversations that ensue via hashtags and @replies, and, as a result, I began to wonder how we could use those types of resources to continue the dialogue after those conferences and summits have ended.
This past August, I had the opportunity to travel to Japan for a 2-week seminar on Japanese and American remembrance / interpretation / commemoration of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. About 9 American students met up with over 30 Japanese students, and we formed small “peace families” of four, with whom we could discuss things more in-depth. Even though there was no shortage of discussion with our peace families, conversation soon spilled over into the entire group, and spurred on by messages of taking action for peace (and nuclear disarmament, naturally), we were empowered to keep that discussion going, difficult as it may be at times. If we can’t discuss those issues that we find so hard to bring up – the reasons for dropping the atomic bombs, for instance – how can we build a relationship of peace between our generations?
Enter Facebook. Once the two weeks were up, there was a mad scramble of friending on Facebook, and tagging of photos, but then things quieted down. This was unusual, as we were never wanting for spirited discussion in Japan.
So I wonder: how can we keep these dialogues going? Social media, with its inherent immediacy and connectiveness, seems like the perfect outlet. It is perfectly in place to take up those reins, spread the word and encourage action in a wider place than we ever could have imagined – in this case, cross-cultural collaboration on creating an international community of conscience.
So how best to create and facilitate this dialogue? How do we use this framework of social media to promote action at home and abroad? How can we convince others through the sharing of our experience online?”