Report by Christa Kamga from Minutes by Keldon Alleyne:
“It’s true Jesus didn’t use twitter but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t”, said Daniella Duvall, the christian contributor. The event started with Mathew (Main YIC Coordinator) speaking on the vision of UPF and its main goal, the idea of reforming the UN & include an upper chamber, a platform where voices from world level respected faiths leaders can comment on world affairs. A voice of conscience. A moral, religious platform where a variety of faith traditions with their sources of wisdom can take part in policy making. The goal of UPF is to allow those voices-and wisdom to affect policy. During the programme a presentation by Ilaria Esposito who is on the Advisory Council for Youth on the Council of Europe, focussed on the ‘No Hate-Speech Online Movement‘.
Hopefully he wishes people can be inspired to see how valuable this contribution can be. As, we currently don’t have such a council to draw an example from, we get together young people of faith who are informed in their own traditions, theologies and teaching, and they are using that scriptural wisdom to deliver statements and speeches commenting on various themes. We bring together a variety of faith communities, to speak about current relevant issues of today. We can discuss then demonstrate to public at large joint statements and declarations to inspire the population to have confidence in this project and idea. This can translate itself to a more senior council with members of various faith communities.
Daniella Duvall, Theology student spoke for the Christian perspective, she looked to own experiences after google and twitter. Church is a community, social networking allowed an extension that wasn’t possible 10-20 years ago.
Social networking can help as a constant reminder, spiritual enlightenment. Rom6:14 … Part of Christianity, is relationship. Social Media allows a new take. Social Media can be used as great means of evangelism as it provides an audience not reachable in church. However,it could oversimplify faith. Some people have reduced faith to “liking” and sharing posts rather than working on their life and daily actions (prayer, etc.)
Her mother highlighted issues she had overlooked such as intimacy. Bible reminds us that God is everywhere, but can HE be online? Is there an online equivalent of Jesus’ significance.People can become obsessed with likes and it can astray us from actual mission. It is hence important not to lose sight of what Christianity is all about. We must not oversimplify it and allow ourselves to become caught up with number of followers and likes.
Asmah Zuriman, Phd UCL religion shared on the impact of social media on religious communities from an Islamic perspective, explaining that in the years, they have seen many good initiatives, blogs, websites, online libraries to collect information and communicate views. The interactive part is important not just about receiving but also about giving information.
Certain websites have helped Muslims learn more about their religion, be informed about important events and news (EID, fasting dinners and charity events) . These engagement of course are not solely aimed at Muslims but inter religious & help to foster better relations between cultures.
She also shed light on negatives: Social media can also function as a weapon for those who want to inflict harm. There are sites designed to set people against each other. Two main groups relevant in this context: those with deep hatred to Muslims such as Anti Muslim Islam Alliance and from within Muslim community. Both are extreme and radical in their views. Such groups abuse social media’s facilities.
Asuka, Student of Religion at Kings College, spoke for the Unification church and started of by giving a quick introduction of the religion, how and when it started then she continued, however, being relatively new, the media formed a part of it. At the moment Mass weddings and brain washing stories form much of early news articles. This she clearly explained is because the Media is interested in what is sensational, outrageous and what sells.
As they quickly known to become suppliers of information, Media cab been inherently negative and dangerous. However, now with the emergence of social media each of us can become the media ourselves. Many people have set up YouTube channels, conveying messages to people around the world. It is hence our task to explore and find ways to deal with social media.
The event continued with an answer questions session as well as sharing from the audience. Christa (one of the YouthUPF co-ordinators) said she sees Facebook, & social media as an easy way to connect people. Find people who are interested in similar activities. It was easier to create events, reach to organizations, through social media. She was followed by Amit (Hinduism) who expressed she found loads of groups with different members. She also appreciated social media as is it provides a platform to like/share but again many a big issue of the community at large is that they do not do much else.
A great contributor was Ilaria Esposito, she spoke densely about social media and the campaign online against hate speech. The “No hate speech movement”. They have had big discussion on social media and participation of young people. Social media can compliment the purpose of movements but Hate speech is a human rights issue.
Farah, previously part of a similar group. Mentioned unheard voices. How can we tap into those unheard voices? That is why these types of forums are important. Key individuals should be able to say, “I’m going to help pass this message on”.
One good point of social media as Shabnam pointed, is that there will be different opinions from different faiths. Every point will alow you to see things in a different way.
The whole event, shed more light on the positive aspects of social media as Mr Sharma had said in beginning, it provides a platform to bring together the generations. So should there be some kind of regulation and law regarding to what can be said online about faith? There is the right of freedom of expression. When we decide to limit freedom of expression and it will turn to hate speeches,breaking down barriers of interfaith can be stimulated by talking about it. Policies are here to change, so large platforms can be encouraged to respond to hate speeches. There are so many social media information on the internet that it is hard to find reliable sources. Now we know Facebook will not be source of information but be rather a hub and as we can be the media ourselves. We should be really active. A
comment from the audience, requested us to find ways to get celebrities involved so that the YIC can quickly be known worldwide.
Mathew closed the evening, with a summary declaration. (#yicsocialmedia)
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