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

  • Apr 11, 2011
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(When you read the following, please note I advocate for a learning revolution through digital media in China, not a political one; I want the Chinese people use their digital information infrastructure responsibly for the purpose of overall Human Sustainability; while I do not endorse violence as a form of opposition, I do believe there are human rights issues need be addressed in the Chinese criminal defense process related to Sustainability; I simply ask for the Chinese People, a fair and reasonable defense infrastructure to reduce corruption and improve cost efficiency for government programs; got my fingers crossed.)

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 violence of the Cultural Revolution in China, and subsequently sent thousands to death or re-education camps (my father included), 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/marketing campaigns structured around products or single sided political messages. I call these "peer review for profit" social media, (and these are entirely different from “Social Media” that challenges authorities, overthrows governments, and advocates for those who are voiceless). 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 for China; this is the Social Media in 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, Susan Bird, that a conversation can change the world. Many marketing professionals and the so-called 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. But a conversation is not enough to start a movement. Conversation means nothing if there is no substance and no meaning. The Internet is littered with unnecessary conversations these days. The unfortunate thing is we have wasted so much time paying attention to this useless information. Let’s face the reality: gossips and rants will never solve the challenges we face in world hunger or global warming. I am guilty of frivolous rants and I am working on changing that.  What we need is a Method in the Madness. Our job and responsibility is to stop this deterioration and help generate positive learning via Social Media and technology.

So to me, 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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About the reviewer
Jin Kong ()
I was born in Lanzhou, a city of the Silk Road. Moved to Beijing at age 5, then to Cincinnati at age 11. I studied philosophy in college and graduate school. Lost in the academic nonsense I enlisted in … more
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