This week I attended a public address given by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. I found him to be humble, compassionate, and strong in his convictions – as all world leaders ideally should be. His talk was really engaging, especially when he called for each of us to take personal action to alleviate climate change and improve our communities. One piece of advice he gave particularly struck me (paraphrased here):
We must not mistake connection for unity. Connection relies on technology. Unity relies on us.
This idea really resonated with me personally. For example, I deleted my Facebook account a few years ago because, while it was an amazing tool that allowed me to stay connected to hundreds of friends and acquaintances, I felt those connections were not particularly meaningful. To use Ban’s language, I did not feel united with the people I was connected to on Facebook.
On the other hand, we have the recent Egyptian revolution, where connection brought unity among protesters. Social technologies such as Twitter allowed for real-time connection between hundreds of thousands of people within Egypt and around the world. But would any meaningful change have occurred if those people had not also felt united in a common vision for a new Egypt?
We live in a tech-savvy world, where it is now possible to connect to like-minded individuals across the globe. Where it is also possible to meet virtually, to discuss, to organise, to inspire, and educate. Communication tools such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress are free and widely used.
The question remains: How can we leverage this connection to unite in action for a better world?
Your ideas will be greatly appreciated.