Beyond Horizons

Social Media – For Progress and Development (Part-4)

Social Media - For Progress and Development (Part-4)

I remember years ago when I started on my professional journey, my well-wisher and one of the most creative media entrepreneurs I’ve come across, the CEO of Vibrand 360, Abdul Shafeeq, told me the importance of a website and being on social platforms today for professional progress and networking purposes. I was initially very hesitant and desired no involvement through social media. Interestingly, it was merely a few years ago when that reluctance was overcome by understanding its benefits. During the early days of my involvement on social media platforms, my interest was low. It was about my lack of confidence and the uncertainty of becoming a part of social network platforms. It was also about my concern regarding contributing effectively to the platform that I am a member of.

Today, not surprisingly, I agree with Shafeeq and appreciate the valuable advice he had given me many years ago. It’s not that I consider myself knowledgeable about communicating on social media today, yet its benefits are not lost to me now. Through discussions and the support of my well-wishers and friends who are experts in professionally using social media, I enjoy the privileges of using social media, and it has helped me not just learn, interact and support others, it has helped me get connected to some fantastic individuals from different parts of the world. If used with purpose and proper intent, the internet and social media are powerful tools for development and progress – based on my experience and involvement for professional and learning (including improving my hobby skills) in social media.

So how can social media enable us to acquire the courage to grow, learn?

Social media platforms enable users to learn from the posts of others; for example, professionals who wish to share their expertise may allow someone interested to learn more about a specific field to seek support or guidance. Users may even be inspired to grow and pursue their goals through interactions and knowledge sharing on social media. One of the primary benefits for a learner or work-related enquiries is the connections you contact as a social media user. Our interactions can help us support others with their queries relating to our profession, and similarly, we can also get references for professional knowledge and work-related enquiries. The confidence and courage we gain through supportive communication and interactions are immense, providing us with an excellent opportunity to grow, learn and help.

By appreciating, encouraging and thoughtfully commenting on the posts on the social media platform, we enable us and others to interact and engage on an impactful personal or professional subject that enables development and growth in our understanding of the topic discussed. Professional social media platforms such as Linked In promote reforms in education, child abuse, gender inclusivity, mental health awareness, and other socially impacting subjects. The recently concluded World Education Empathy Week is a brilliant example of how an inspiring School Principal, Montessori Teacher and Author, Gavin McCormack and his dedicated and talented associate Anusha Shrestha initiated a global event that was a resounding success in creating awareness of the importance of education in the lives of children. The dream of a single dedicated educational professional was able to materialise, thanks to the effective use of social media, transcending countries and bring hundreds of educational professionals together to conduct 350 sessions on various subjects for children who are denied education due to lockdown in many parts of the world.

Thanks to the number of social media users, events, conferences, summits and talks can spread tremendous goodwill and wellness, critical for societal progress and wellbeing. Jude (Jobhib) Ediae, CEO, Founder at Global Youth Mental Health Awareness (GYMHA) Inc, Award-winning Entrepreneur, has brought global awareness regarding the issue of mental health wellness through his tireless efforts through social media by promoting the subject of mental health through programs and courses for youth empowerment and online global conferences and events on topics relating to mental health issues. The just-concluded Child Abuse Prevention & Awareness Program that promoted the critical societal menace of child abuse had invited a panel of global expert speakers to speak on this subject. Conducted by Jakeer Hussain Shaik, Global Child Rights Activist, Founder and Chairman of Child Chapter, this event is another example of how social media platforms can be used for charitable and noble purposes.

Social media can encourage the public’s involvement to discuss, and debate encourages transparency in communication and promotes the establishment and interaction of communities with shared interests and goals. It can be effectively utilised for publicising community impacting activities, vision, gather support, seek volunteers and donors, engage with individuals for mutual professional opportunities, progress and learning. It can play a vital role in social progress, reflect societal dissatisfaction, portray economic and societal growth or concerns, and promote the importance of sustainability and language understanding.

Talking of social media being a tool to teach and learn languages, a few years ago, I had the privilege to meet the enterprising Eliza Keyton, an Academic Coordinator and English Teacher by profession and a traveller and creator by passion. Before relocating to UAE, she has worked in Korea, Texas, and New York City, where she developed a love for Dravidian languages. Currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam, her passion for learning and promoting the understanding of Malayalam (the language spoken in the southern state of Kerala in India) was inspiring to the extent that in her free time, she developed her Malayalam Instagram handle, Eli.Kutty. Through her page, she creatively teaches Malayalam by breaking down the process of learning this language into bite-size lessons for her nearly seventy-three thousand followers. Her TED talk. “How Social Media will Save Us” is an insightful session on how society can benefit through the endless opportunities and possibilities for learning and gaining knowledge about languages.

Social media is a sensitive subject when it comes to children. Hence, it is not surprising that when I mention the benefits of social media, I notice the trace of scepticism in parents or caregivers. My request to parents is to explore and understand the help of the internet and social media initially and then with their children before discouraging the usage. Exploring the benefits of social media with children can be beneficial for both parents and children since it can build up a better rapport. Children can enjoy the freedom of asking parents their doubts and questions, including why some sites or social media platforms are not appropriate for children. The more transparency parents exhibit, the better chances that children will feel encouraged to trust and confide in them. Besides introducing social media platforms as educational and professional learning platforms, with parental support and guidance can provide immense opportunities for children (too!) to learn, grow and develop.

Some of the most influential personalities on Linked In are illustrious young innovators, speakers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, change advocates like Vinisha Umashankar, Vinusha MK, Hasini LakshmiNarayanan, Harpita Pandyan, Nethila Nimsath, and Adam El Rafey, but to name a few. They motivate their generation and those who are privileged to note their admirable enthusiasm for learning, excellence, innovative approach to healthy living, progress and zest to make the world a better place. If we are to respect social media as a digital tool that supports us to gain as much support, the inspiring transformational possibilities that it can provide society are immense.

TEDx Speaker and Author Gavin McCormack was inspired to initiate the World Education Empathy Week by seeing the impacts of the global pandemic on teaching and learning around the world. It was thanks to online platforms; this international education event was a resounding success! Social media can certainly play a role in inspiring all of us to collaborate and work together for a more significant and noble purpose that can benefit all.

To quote Gavin McCormack,

“The internet is a powerful tool when we use it for the right reasons”.

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