ICT for Peacebuilding

Sri Lanka’s first mainstream media article on Facebook activism

Facebook - Courtest Sunday Times
Image from Sunday Times

Smriti Daniel’s article last Sunday in the Sunday Times is to my knowledge the first article that appears in the print media in Sri Lanka dealing with growing web based activism via the social networking platform Facebook. It’s a well written and researched piece that deals with a phenomenon I most recently touched upon in my post on Pissu Poona (Pissu is Crazy in Sinhala, and Poona is cat in Tamil).

There may be sociological limits for activism in and through Facebook, and it is debatable whether Facebook actually engenders meaningful relationships anchored to a common purpose, ideal, process or event over the long term – especially under repressive regimes.  An example of FB supporting a real world event can be found here, set up by the Peoples Movement for Democracy. However, in Sri Lanka, Facebook engineered real world action on the lines of Egypt leading to real world swarms is non-existent today and won’t I believe emerge for a while in SL – though dissent and critical communications within and between local and diaspora groups may blossom.

In this light, the article usefully ends on a particularly sobering note,

At times, it must seem a little like setting up shop in the market and shouting as loudly as you can, cheek by jowl with the other vendors…and it can get frustrating. “On the internet it’s very easy to start things, it’s much harder to sustain them,” says Indi frankly. Both he and Sanjaya agree that while it has the potential to be a powerful democratic tool, Facebook simply needs many more Sri Lankans online and engaged before it can be used as such.

Read Smriti’s article in full here.

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