Hadje Cresencio Sadje is an associate member in the Center for Palestine Studies-SOAS University of London UK. He is currently a master student at the Protestant Theological University-Groningen and has been working with various faith-based organisation including, Escaping Barcode Life-The Netherlands, PhISO, and Foundation University-Amsterdam The Netherlands.
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
— ISAIAH 40: 3
The Staff and Officers’ Meeting 2016-World Student Christian Federation-Europe (WSCF-E) held in Oslo City, Norway provides an excellent venue to move us toward putting New Social Media, within a broader view of which the WSCF-E campaign takes place. The S&O 2016 meeting reflected on the importance of new social media and networking services in the WSCF-E’s communication strategy. The evidence that we live in a high tech-savvy generation is far more complex reality. The new social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn – reveal a far more interrelated and dynamic communications than has heretofore been imagined.
It appears in our high tech-savvy generation, are characterized of increasing numbers and forms of global connectivity. It seems that these new discoveries, innovations, and new form of social media, helped us to improve our lives. The new social media have gradually been altering our worldviews, values, and lifestyle. It could be in that case, new social media are increasingly changing our everyday life. Also, it could be said that the new social media has already governed our society and our culture. According to the Pew Research Center factsheet, as of January 2014, it shows that 74% of online adults use social networking sites (men 72 &% women 76%). These figures, it might be suggested, as Alvin Toffler predicted, that we are now on the process of the communication revolution, the Third Wave Society, or the rise of the Information Technology Society, as Manuel Castells discussed in his previous works.
I am convinced that new social media is a mixed blessing. A mixed blessing in the sense that it is not only gives us opportunities to further our capabilities, and to advance our common interest but also to destroy, silent, and marginalize other voices. It might be true that technology is both danger and saving to both the world and humanity. Yet, it is important to note that we as human being has played an important role in this process of forming, ordering and controlling the modern technology. It is important not let modern technology redefining what means to be human being is. We, human being can turn these modern technology into something productive not destructive. We can assumed that modern technology is beneficial as long as it helps us to be more human, without alienating us and destroying our environment. As modern technology getting efficient, human being’s conditions should also improving. It is safe to say, improving technology without valuing human being and our ecosystem is tantamount to mass destruction.
In the S&O meeting, I realise that the new social media possibly can provide a public space or a platform for political campaign. In many ways, the new social media become a tool for exposing injustices, to promote public awareness and to serve as relief operation drive. Aside from these, new social media become our new avenues to express our critical opinion, ideas, and feelings. But most importantly, to have political-economic and social-cultural mobilisation.
The S&O meeting was inspiring and challenging. Regardless of your educational background and nationality, the meeting provides valuable insights into current campaigns, and the future directions of the WSCF-E. The S&O speakers (Annegret Kapp, Marianne Ejdersten & Francios David Freschi) takes us on a journey through the world’s faith, activism, campaigning strategy and volunteer work management. Four things I learned from at the S&O 2016 meeting in Oslo: Firstly, twitter, facebook, youtube, and instagram could be a platform for an active participation among Student Christian Movement members across the whole Europe. Secondly, the new social media serves a public space for WSCF-E’s empowering young leaders such us; campaigning, advocacy, connecting grassroots work and fighting any form of injustices from regional to global level. Thirdly, the new social media become an important instrument for building public awareness and a means of relief operation drive during calamities. Lastly, the new social media could provide us with some creative ways to promote volunteerism.
We, the WSCF-E should be taking advantage of these benefits from new social media and networking services, but also requires some commitment and work on our part. Embedded in these new social media and networking services are the capacity for social connections and support networks. On the cutting edge, investing in the new social media is to keep up, the WSCF-E, with the changing times. Creating virtual communities would provide new possibilities for WSCF-E, to spread easily and simply our regional and global campaign. It enables the individual members of the WSCF-E to come closer to participating in the global mobilisation. It reminds me of the famous punchline of an anonymous Cairo activist during 2011 Egyptian revolution (Arab spring). It goes like this, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” Interestingly, it may be possible, as Manuel Castells already described it, the IT-revolution could be a source for social change. It might be said that new social media today is a rising tide that lift all boats toward densely network society and global connectivity than ever before.
We, know that, in all European countries and in all contexts, it is possible to take action using new social media and networking services, to challenge global injustices. As a volunteer member of the WSCF-Europe, bringing our prophetic voices into new social media or virtual reality, of course, which makes people more conscious of the role of religious community in the modern European countries. It is useful also to remind our European Christian communities about their responsibilities towards their suffering brothers and sisters caused by global injustices. We, the WSCF-E is committed to brought constructive transformation of our world by being a space for liturgical celebration, providing a theological-social analysis, and advocating prophetic action beyond boundaries, gender and ethnicity. As Jesus brought good news to the poor, proclaimed liberty to the captives and made justice triumph (Luke 4: 16-21).
In a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest thanks to the SCM Norway and WSCF-Europe for hosting and funding the S&O meeting 2016. I would like to sincerely thank the organising committee. Lastly, I would like to thank all our speakers and delegates, who attended and contributed their ideas, energy and passion.
- Alvin Toffler, Third Wave. US: Bantam Books, 1980.
- Anonymous Cairo activist, quoted in Nadine Kassem Chebib & Rabia Minatullah Sohail, “The Reasons Social Media Contributed to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution,” International Journal of Business Research and Management 3 (2011): 139.
- Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. 1: The Rise of the Network Society. Cambridge MA. Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
- Social Network Factsheet January, September 2014, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/ Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Photo credit: Hristina Tancheva
- Who We Are, World Student Christian Federation Global (WSCF Global), http://www.wscfglobal.org/ Retrieved 17 March 2016.