01 October 2019

 

 

"We need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up." 

 

–   Greta Thunberg 

 

Life hasn’t been the same since the advent of social media networks. Although human beings have always found a way to connect – whether by inscriptions and drawings in caves, or through sending letters, social media has not only changed the way we connect, but also the speed at which this happens. If current global data is anything to go by according to Smart Insights.

South Africa’s smartphone penetration rate sits at over 80%. Whilst Sub-saharan Africa’s smartphone penetration rate sits at 33% as the end of 2018. This means that life on smartphones is a reality. Business is conducted via phone, conversations are had and problems are solved – all through the device in the palm of your hand. 

 

#SocialMedia4Good

A first of its kind, the #SocialMedia4Good event hosted a panel discussion including well known social media personalities and influencers, such as Maps Maponyane, musician Amanda Black and actress Ayanda Borotho. The event aimed to interrogate the notion of solving problems and positively contributing to social issues via social media. Most importantly, the burning issue of the day was: can social media be utilized for good? 

‘’How do you make caring cool? How do you make caring sexy’’?

            

– Maps Maponyane 
 

The enduring power of good – 17 Sustainable development goals to transform our world

Discussions at the recently held event centred around the United Nations General Assembly, which adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This manifesto includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with one of the major points being ‘leave no one behind’. Social media provides an ideal way to reach more people and get more input on solving social problems. 

Utilizing mechanisms that we already engage on, for the purpose of forward momentum, was unpacked. One of the key points was that the time for operating in silos is quickly fading. If anything, through social media, access to information has spiked. Platforms and amplification of voices have quadrupled. Fuelling hope for the realization of the SDGs. 

Organise and act 

How do we get there? Good can be achieved through social platforms if we, the people come together. Notably, this is something that is already underway. Audience members at #SocialMedia4Good made mention of fluid conversations on Twitter that ask users to organise in furtherance of societal goals, such as the most recent egregious acts of violence. And other movements that pre-date the Government’s decision to declare sanitary pads tax free. Social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter are being used to trigger and advance active citizenry around socio-economic issues. 

 

‘’We have access, we have the tools, we now have to cohesively organise.’’

 

– Ayanda Borotho

Social media is powered by us, behind QWERTYs, smartphones, and devices lie with us. We drive the conversation, influence and shape the narrative. These fun social apps can be a meeting place of collective, impactful change. Something that is already in the works. And it is only the beginning. This event illustrated and amplified the need to have these serious conversations, collectively. With that, the tone is being set forward for impactful change, by us, the people. 

Key takeaway

A key takeaways from the #SocialMedia4Good event was that in order for us to use online channels for positive change, we need to work together. This possible solution answers one of the Sustainable Development Goals – servicing partnerships to achieve goals. Social media has provided an effortless channel for us to join forces to combat social issues. The rest is up to us.

 

Social Media as a Catalyst for Change
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