Reaching out in the digital age

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Social media is the relatively new kid on the block; entering the world stage at the fag end of the last century. It is the rising star; the carrier of information and knowledge; the bearer of social change; the ‘pamphlet of the 21st century’; as termed by the IT magazine Wired. Communication is no longer a long-drawn affair comprising handwritten letters or the relatively faster electrical signal of the telegram machine; it is the clicking of a mouse or the pressing of an icon of an app; and zap … the message is delivered!

No surprise then that social media has changed the way we look at things.  The world has become a smaller place with accessibility with remote places and with a maximum number of people. Facebook and Twitter has boarded the communication train; and is dispensing of information, opinions, photograph displays and the war of words at the speed of light. It is being used as a tool to herald in social and political change; as was witnessed during the dissent against dictatorships in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. A wide range of opinions are expressed with arguments and counter arguments involving uncountable online inhabitants. Posts on Twitter and Me2day are reaching people all over the world in seconds with a ping; and are being accessed on mobile devices; bringing to light many an issue that had been discussed by a handful few earlier; now being discussed by numerous netizens, thus allowing the interested to assess public opinion. All news is Breaking News, being reported in real physical time; all incidents assessed and commented on at the tap of a finger.

Social media is also the means to communicate with politicians and activists to address issues that affect the common man; a means to demand an explanation for a flawed project, or to offer suggestions for improvement, or remedies to situations prevailing in a country that need to be changed for the better. And the best part is that all this may be done from the comfort of one’s home or workplace; and even while travelling! The common man no longer has to depend on the media for information on what is happening all over the world; he just has to log on to his Facebook or Twitter account and sift through the plethora of information to choose the one that interests or affects him the most, and read through and comment. The figures below bear testimony to the immensity of the use and effects of social media:

  • 62 % of the online denizens take recourse to social media to communicate
  • 1  billion people all over the world are registered with Facebook and use its services regularly; with numerous new entrants every day
  • Approximately one minute of every five minutes on the internet by a person is taken up in accessing social networking sites

These figures say it all. Keeping this in mind, my desire is to use the social media to communicate my policy issue and further my mission. For this purpose, I would like to choose two of the most widely used platforms; namely Facebook and the blog.

Facebook is the choice of most adults in this world who have the opportunity to be online;  the Pew Research Center’s Internet Report in September 2013 revealing that approximately 71 % of online adults in America are active on Facebook. The site fares extremely well on the social media ranking too; with compete.com pointing out that it ranks third on the scale that measures the volume of traffic in different websites, and takes the position just after google.com and yahoo.com. With this kind of reach, Facebook would be the perfect social medium for me to express my ideas and suggestions regarding my policy issue; and it would reach my friends, both real and online; and invite comments and further ideas on the same.

Making use of my blog would be my other choice to communicate my policy issue. A blog invites comments; and the issues I would put forth in it would benefit from these comments and ideas. The comments page would be highly interactive; one observation followed by another that adds to it and invites further discussions. My ideas regarding early childhood education and the efficacy of model preschools would find a voice in my blog; and through it I may express my dissent on topics that are regressive, challenge authority if it is counter-productive, and seek assistance of those in power to make a positive change. My take on effective regulations in the field of early childhood education; on the necessity of appropriate teacher training and basic qualifications; and many such related aspects would be presented on this platform; and adding the link to my Facebook account would ensure a wider audience.

The audience would be different in either case. My Facebook entry would be more universal and my take on the policy issue that interests me will reach far and wide; me having numerous Facebook friends. Interested friends would share and repost my posts; and tagging some of my friends would ensure that it reaches the pages of their friends too that are not on my list; thus creating a wider dissemination of information that would reach more eyeballs. On the other hand, my blog would be more personal and specific; and intended for a smaller group of interested readers. At present, my blog is explored by denizens who are mostly educators; and their professional expert comments related to preschool education in response to my ideas are highly appreciated.

Using anything for furtherance of one’s ideas always presents a challenge; and the use of the social medium is no difference. Although Facebook would present me the opportunity to reach out to a greater number of people, it may not be as effective as there would be numerous among them who would be uninterested in the topic in question. In the vast sea of netizens on the Facebook, the ones that would help me in the furtherance of my project may be missed out as many of them may not be active on the site on the day I would post my ideas, or on the succeeding few days; after which the post may get pushed to the background to make way for the infinite number of new ones.

As for my blog, this too may present a challenge, especially since maintaining a blog requires one to be regular and consistent; failing which the readers may lose interest.  Besides, as mentioned earlier, a blog would attract only one kind of audience; for example my blog would attract mostly educators; and thus the responses would be one-dimensional and from a certain specific point of view. It is expected that the comments would be one-sided, lacking the multiple viewpoints that another social medium would present; thus the learning would be limited. This leads me to the other challenge; that is to make the blog interesting enough to attract diverse readers; and opening avenues so that it is easily accessible to all; both educators and others who may or may not be related to the field of early childhood education.

That said, the positive role of the social medium in communicating, interacting and learning cannot be undermined in today’s day and time. It is high time that we use this extremely influential medium to reach out to people and express the issues that interest us; and help in furtherance of our ideas for the benefit of early age children all over the world.

Reference

Hanan, J. (2013, January 31). Connecting Social Media to the Policy Cycle. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from http://blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/connecting-social-media-policy-cycle

June, P., Hong, C., & Min, P. S. (2011, October). Social Media’s Impact on Policy Making. SERI Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.seriworld.org/16/qt_PdfDown.html?mncd=0301&pub=20110414&seq..

Pate, E. (2014, May 25). Advocacy Through Social Media Part I: Facebook. Retrieved November 17, 2016, from http://www.rootedinrights.org/advocacy-through-social-media-part-i-facebook/

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