In a globally connected age, we are constantly seeking out new ways to exchange information, to find and gather, to share and broadcast with minimum lag time and maximum reach. The dawning of the digital age, and in particular the meteoric rise of social media, has allowed governments, businesses, organizations and individuals the ability to better share ideas instantly with their communities.
Nobody can deny the power of social media for social good. In January 2009, social media broke the story of the Hudson River airplane crash, providing instant coverage for a full fifteen minutes before other outlets picked up the story. June 2009 saw videos and photos on Twitter, Flickr and YouTube emerging from Iran that gave the world tangible and undeniable confirmation of election challenges that demanded world attention. And when tragedy struck Haiti in early 2010, the world turned to social media to find loved ones, to mourn, and to come together through social media in a shared humanitarian effort. For the first time, we joined together in 140-character thoughts and $10 pledges in a social media-led call for humanitarian relief, igniting a global effort to begin the process of stabilizing and supporting a nation in need.
While social media is a fact of our modern-day lives, there are important questions about how we use it. With the knowledge and experience we’ve collectively gained in recent years, how can we proactively employ social and digital media for the good of society? More importantly, how can we use these technologies to support development worldwide and solve some of the toughest challenges our world faces?
These are the questions that will be discussed at the Social Good Summit, where high-level speakers, including UN Foundation Founder and Chairman Ted Turner, will discuss their visions and innovative ideas for positive social change. This gathering takes place as world leaders meet across town at the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Hosted by the UN Foundation, in partnership with Mashable and 92Y, the Social Good Summit will bring the conversations from the historic UN Summit out of the halls of the UN and into the public – where digital media will then deliver these messages to the world to virally engage each and every global citizen. Following the Summit, the UN Foundation will sponsor the UN Week Digital Media Lounge, providing the online community exclusive access to high-level UN officials and international leaders.
The world’s leaders are gathering to tackle these challenges, and this is the time to support them in making progress toward the MDGs. We all have a role to play in improving lives in our global community. Celebrities and citizens, institutions and individuals – each of us now has the means, through social media, for our voices to be heard…let’s make every click and every character count.
This was originally printed in Global Health Magazine on Sept. 22, 2010.