Social Media: The New Path to World Peace & An End to Racism?

Will world peace always be a “Utopian” dream? Is open unrestricted communication, amongst different cultures and across unlimited boarders, the way to  achieve world peace? Are social media platforms and services slowly paving the path to a better, more peaceful tomorrow for all?

World peace is a concept which all religions call for and yet seems to be almost unachievable taking into consideration the vast variety of global issues and world wide problems we are facing every single day at an incremental rate!

In theory, world peace is “an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or peoples. It is the professed ambition of many past and present world leaders.” Leaders aside, there seems to be a great power which accompanies a greater responsibility when it comes to nations and their peoples. Enter the role of social media.

Twitter Visitors Country Rank

Twitter Visitors Country Rank

Through monitoring my followers’ updates, I was quite shocked to find out that probably all of their tweets were utterly unbiased and even more so of an understanding and forgiving nature. Most of my followers actively try, continuously, to spread advice, tips and words of love, peace, awareness, motivation and unity although their ages, ethnicity, race, backgrounds, social status, traditions and country of origin may widely differ.

I was intrigued to find out more, therefore, through Twitter search, I made an effort to look for some of the global controversial topics using keyword search in efforts to see if what my followers are doing applies to every other Twitter user or not.

I searched a few hundred tweets for certain sensitive and racist keywords and our humble results were impressive:

  • Even though the top 10 countries using Twitter have nothing to do with Iran or the Middle East,  the topic of Iran’s Election was (and still is) one of the most trending topics on Twitter for more than 3 weeks in a row!
  • Only 2 of the top ten countries on Twitter are Muslim, yet racism against Islam is merely around 1 – 2%, keeping in mind that according to Alexa’s ranking information about Twitter.com, less than 10% of the countries that access Twitter are of Muslim majority.
  • Even for the word “Arab”, I noticed there is less than 1% offenses. Although a few use the word as an offense, in general, it’s used in regular context.
  • In a period of seven days, there were no direct attacks or insults towards African-Americans whatsoever. The “N” word was rarely used – less than 20 occurrences in the last week amongst millions of tweets per day – and not at all in an offensive manner.

My Deductions:

  • When people are interacting behind a screen without the burden of face to face misinterpretations and biases, they have the ability to be more forgiving and tolerant.
  • Based on the unobtrusive nature of social media interaction, which allows for having the freedom to choose who you communicate with, more valued opinions are shared because communication is willingly initiated, continued and ended.
  • Social media is slowly changing the nature and scope to broader public participation in public related issues and concerns, eliminating the focus on the “one” and building the focus on the “many”.
  • World peace and other world sustaining concepts could be easily spread and taught through social media venues such as Twitter.
  • Twitter, and other social media channels, do provide a key and very immediate mechanism to get information and voices out that would otherwise never be heard.

Finally, if “hardcore rivals such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi can be social-media friends (or followers, at least)”, there must be optimism that with time, effort and people of evolving thought coming together, world peace might come true… one day.

Would you agree?

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    You got me thinking, why does twitter appear to have less racism? Maybe it's because people know that their tweets will be stored publicly and linked to their profile indefinitely? At the end of the day, no one wants to be labeled as a racist!

  • http://blog.citizenworld.net/ Joe

    I tend to agree with Amer- life being in the public space make people more careful. Social Media may make the world SEEM less racist, but its hard to say. Perhaps being exposed to open-minded thoughts and opinions can really tone people down. I do like the trend though :)

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    Hello all :)

    After reading your comments and replies, which I kindly appreciate, I thought I need to explain something: The above article was based on a Twitter experience and since twitter is a very popular social media channel, from there came the title :)

    Now, moving on, I am sure there are thousands of people out there who might not own a PC or use social media all in all but looking at the numbers of those who do, I can safely say: “they can make a difference”.

    Moreover, I think that we, the people who use media, follow the news and formulate opinions, are the ones who count at the end of the day… The less fortunate people have so much more to worry about such as finding a shelter over their heads! We, the people who have blogs, social media involvement and access to forums, discussions with millions of others out there, we are the ones who can make a difference for those less fortunate…

    Please note that I, in no way, tried to sell that social media “will bring world peace”, I posed a question trying to find out what you think of the matter since you all are active members of this great platform for “change”.

    Finally, I personally believe that social media has filled a gap between many peoples across the world making it more possible to share opinions, learn about other cultures and yes, be more tolerant and understanding towards other races, ethnicities, religions and thoughts.

    Best always…

  • chrisharringtonjp

    Great post!
    I imagine that perhaps those who have a desire to use modern social media actively are already less likely to be burdened by the unfortunate emotional baggage of racism or intolerance.
    However, I do think that this open, non-private modern type of social media can in fact play an important role in moving us toward global peace. Information technology augments and molds our cognitive abilities to a greater or lesser degree depending on individual mental flexibility. None are more flexible then youth. As more and more youth in the developed world grow up in such an environment, we will head toward that global tipping point where movement toward the compassion and altruism which I believe is our nature when not suppressed will finally become the norm rather than the exception.
    It is essential that the world focus on inviting into the mix those nations who still believe information needs to be controlled. Once the technically literate youth come of age, and the old guard have retired, the only remaining potential for conflict will be due to a knowledge and awareness gap between industrialized populations. That potential is to me second only to the global environmental crisis as an issue for concern. And as long as a gap exists, the old guard mentality can rationalize its continued existence.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ FadiPick

    chris, that is the beauty of social media, it brings closer to each other, face to face, to address and embrace our differences. Usually racism comes out of ignorance and failure to realize the humanity in the other.

    I think that in today's world, knowledge sharing it easier than ever. It is so easy to share information and it is so easy to access it. People from around the world will pick up. Technology is easy to transfer but the problem would lie in the inherited memes – that would be the hardest part to overcome.

  • chrisharringtonjp

    FadiPick, yes, processing of inherited memes can take time and I think it is dependent on the mental flexibility (ability to adjust to new ideas), novelty-experience (history of exposure to new ideas), and breadth of knowledge of the receiver.

    Perhaps the best way for, for instance, traditional cultures to survive the process is to embrace the Internet and social media and become an active participant without losing sight of their unique values. The best way to do that is to empower the youth while providing nurturing and support. Any attempt to resist the tide of information, which now represents the almost the entirety of human knowledge, can only result in drowning in it.

    I have strong faith that the youth, when given access to all of human knowledge as well as nurturing support, can develop the ability to make better choices than we have done before them, and social media is an essential enabler in that process.

  • Zee

    Well done BEE.. you are amazing.. keep on sweetie..
    good luck

  • http://twitter.com/stillsoul Tim Rees

    This is very interesting. I have only been using Twitter properly for little over a month after signing up earlier in the year and intitially having decided it was a waste of my time. Upon a second look I discovered TweetDeck and that changed the whole tweeting experience for me. Rather than sending tweets out blind, I discovered that by hashtagging topics of interest I could get directly plugged into an international community discussing my topics of choice! I found myself increasingly excited by the potential of Twitter and that excitement continues to grow. Unlike other media communities, on Twitter, if I find an individual's perspective offensive, I can simply unfollow. This allows me to focus positively on individual's who share my interests and we can share perspectives, thus Twitter becomes an enjoyable experience, unlike other interactive forums where I constantly found myself bogged down in the negativity of individual's who would belligerently insist I should accept everything they say as the absolute truth. Racists are hypocrites in my view and, in my opinion, whatever they have to say is worthless, although I agree with a world of uncensored free speech. Twitter is great because I can simply switch these people off. In normal everyday life, racists and bigots are an increasingly small minority, but the problem with a minority is they tend to shout loudly in order to be heard. Your research shows that the vast majority on Twitter are not prepared to tolerate racism and simply switch it off. I like that.

    Yes, I think Twitter has the potential to make a real difference in the world. Communication is the key to understanding and with understanding fear of each other loses its grip on us. Through Twitter I see day by day, more and more a spiritual harmony intensifying. I probably sound very idealistic and Utopia is the ultimate ideal, but it depends on the definition of Utopia. My definition is simply harmony. In the past it has been suspicion, greed, fear and religion which has divided us. Suspicion is fast being left in the past. Greed is a problem we all need to tackle and we must all begin with our own conscience. Fear will simply evaporate the moment we embrace. As for religion, we must, each of us seek our own individual path. All religions offer you a truth embedded in pages. Religions ask you to look to idols. The idols ask you to look within. So let us all begin by looking within rather than looking to the icons for the answers to our own individual purpose, our own individual truth?

  • http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/07/28/more-facebook-racism-0709/ More Facebook Racism | racismreview.com

    [...] of the youth culture.

  • Jim Crabb

    Some random thoughts…a lot (maybe you could or have done some research) twitters are younger people. It is exciting to see so many young people who have just rejected, ignored, or just somehow escaped the ignorance perpetuated by thier different cultures…the fact that tweets are short also limits the chances of writing innocent but dumb things that can be misconstrued (where is the spelling checker!).

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/08/social-media-ngo-crossing-boundaries-building-bridges.html Social Media & NGOs: Crossing Boundaries & Building Bridges! | Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] great power that social media possesses in addition to my sincere faith that it has the ability to pave the path for world peace. The thought reoccurred to me yesterday in a rather different face and form: the power social media [...]

  • http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/09/28/facebook-racism-reaches-new-low-with-assassination-poll/ racismreview.com » Blog Archive » Facebook Racism Reaches New Low with Assassination Poll

    [...] So much for social media offering a new path to world peace and an end to racism. [...]

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/11/5-ways-for-using-social-media-to-bring-about-world-change.html 5 Ways for Using Social Media to Bring about World Change! | Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] we are trying to bring an end racism, promote environmental awareness, protect children’s rights or achieve any other cause, I [...]

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2010/04/how-social-media-helps-spread-promote-fanaticism.html How Social Media Helps Spread & Promote Fanaticism! | Thoughtpick Blog

    [...] remember once writing a post about how I saw social media to be a means to ending racism and promoting world peace, and though many people opposed my “utopian” idea, I still believed, just as Jim Crabb [...]

  • Jennefer

    I share the enthusiasm of what social media in general could do to proliferate the idea of peace. I was hesitant to talk about it before, to the point of not thinking about its possibility. I believe that peace, as a concept and as a condition is fragile, and that social media is just too new and too open to engage in it. I thought that using social media to spread thoughts of peace might conjure more misunderstandings and would not be contributing anything good at all. The results of the research done is interesting and inspiring. However, clarifications on certain matters would have made the deductions more credible. These are: 1) Socio-demographic and economic profile of the people whose tweets were looked into. I feel that it is not only race and culture that influence people’s idea on peace but sex, age, economic status, among others, would make a difference; and 2) I supposed that the initial concept of social media’s creation was to increase networks. With that, a positive disposition is initially required in order to acquire these connections. This could have an effect on the chances of finding “uncalled for” comments or tweets towards other races and culture. Just a thought…

  • http://jenneferbagaporo.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/my-take-on-peace-and-social-media/ My take on peace and social media « Aftermaths

    [...] how four students were able to laugh and talk with each other despite their racial differences. Beirut’s blog also showed that the use of biased words or texts were uncommon in tweets considering that as [...]

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