Last Thursday a friend of mine from South Africa posted the following statement on Facebook: a Zimbabwean family with whom she was personally connected was struck by tragedy when their baby died and was desperately lacking the funds to pay for the funeral. Until they could do so, the body would have to remain with the family. My friend was asking her friends to contribute if they could – by Friday she had managed to raise R 2000, an amount sufficient to cover two-thirds of the costs. I found this episode compelling in many ways: to be moved by the family’s plight and my friend’s daring appeal; to see how people were mobilized to respond; and to witness what was accomplished within 24 hours.
This is but one example of how Web 2.0 changed our opportunities for expression, action and connection – enabling silenced or obscured individuals and communities to have voice and visibility on the stage of the world. For women, historically and continuously marginalized in the public sphere, this possibility, I believe, is nothing short of revolutionary. I am still as astounded by my friend’s story, as I am by the fact that I can see and hear the inspiring, daunting, familiar, courageous and yes, mind-blowing stories of women from all over the globe with a few clicks on World Pulse. I literally have my fingers on the pulse of women’s worlds, and what is more, I can talk back and share my own!
My amazement and enthusiasm, however, tend to falter slightly when I consider the 200-plus invitations to causes and groups currently waiting in my Facebook account. I am already a member of 48 groups and a supporter of 50 causes, ranging from combatting sexism and racism to battling bull fighting, all of which I truly do find interesting and worthwhile. Sometimes it is so easy to just click… but what happens next? Is it perhaps a case of “so many causes, so little time (or worse, so little effect!)”? And while linking with all these kindred spirits makes me feel all fired-up and glowing, too often the initial spark turns into only a superficial sizzle of a relationship.
And so, the power of Web 2.0, for me, lies exactly in the challenge it presents to me, which is to really relate. I mean this in the sense of sharing my stories in a voice that is uniquely mine, in order to be heard amidst all the other voices, as well as resonating with the tellings of others. It is not enough to click – we have to engage – in dialogue, in action, and in the revolutionary potential of relating.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0.