Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My thoughts about the role of Social Networks

President Obama has texted me:P

Last class was about the role of Social Media with particular focus on current unrest in the Middle Eastern countries. I believe, there is no doubt that social media has had its impact on organizing and mobilizing people who opposed their governments, but there is also something that needs to be considered as contributing factor to anger of people who have been succeeded in toppling the regime in Egypt. Utilization of Technologies like Iphone, computers that are connected with the internet has reshaped the communication architecture of the contemporary world. Today, there is no place where someone can feel her/his self isolated from the rest of the world. Something which happens in one corner of the world will be straight away communicated with most of the people around the world in few seconds.

Instead of spending too much time on other original sources, I do get most of the news that I am interested on from those people who have been part of my social networks (facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and so on). Based on my area of expertise, I have strived to be connected with those people who have been experts on the subjects of my interest and concentration too.

I would like to share a personal story which I believe will last forever in my memories. It was when President Barack Obama was off to Egypt to deliver his historical speech to the Muslim World in summer 2009. Prior to that and his election as President, in 2008, I was doing my fellowship at New York State Legislature, where I got to his facebook page and was among campaigner for his election. Even though it was not part of my job nor I was officially entitled to do so, as an informed Afghan Citizen, whose country’s future is closely tighten to the policy of US administration, I found his policy and approach toward Afghanistan very promising and full of optimisms. Therefore, I was trying to talk to as money Americans as possible to share my thoughts about him and how wise his strategy was toward Afghanistan which was among major issues in his campaign. However, I got the news from his facebook web page that whoever is having cell phone will receive the key points of his speech in almost more than 12 languages, including Farsi which is one of our official languages. Nevertheless, due to my interest of learning English, I chose to receive the texts in English. I registered my cell phone number and left office earlier than usual for home. After having my late lunch with the family, I had gone on a short nap but my cell phone peeped and I straight away got up and screamed “ hu, this is President Obama”. My wife and brothers all got to me and they thought I dreamed something crazy. My older brother who is physician by profession had perceived something was going wrong with me. But I was right, the text was from his(President Obama) team and I had kept receiving texts till the end of his speech. This is something, that I was so excited to see happing for the first time in my life and I am still teased by my wife and brothers that I was expecting the text from President himself, “President Obama has texted me”. As most of the Muslim population lives in Asia, the President’s team (DOS) translated his remarks into Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and some others which I don’t recall.

However, today many of the Afghan politicians, officials and intellectuals have been active part of social networks. Social Networks for the first time were utilized during the Presidential as well as recent parliamentary election campaigns in my country. I saw bulk of comments and exchange of ideas about the policies presented by the candidates as well as criticisms were put on their web pages.

Based on the facts mentioned above about the importance of Social Networks, I believe it is very important to be part of any of them. As personally I use facebook and LinkedIn, has seen the benefits they offer. Part of my facebook, I get most of my news, information about the subjects posted by my friends as well as I am in connected with all my family members as well as relatives whom I haven’t in person in 20 years or so. Part of my professional network (LinkedIn) I in very short period of time I have been introduced and connected with some organizations and folks who I see as positional employers for my career.

Finally, I firmly believe on the importance of Social Network and it does play a critical role in bringing people together, mobilizing their expertise, knowledge and efforts.

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