I’m on vacation for a week. In Rio de Janeiro. On a supposed social media break. But I’m on-line right now instead of on-thebeach; in stealth mode, secretly reading Tweets and Google Reader over morning coffee while my fellow vacationers sleep on and sun pours in the huge open window in the apartment we’re sharing in Copacabana.
I was supposed to quit social media and email for the week, but I’m at that point where I question whether I really wanted to go offline at all, and why…. being addicted to Twitter isn’t really a bad thing, is it? If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking or go on a diet and failed, you’ve been here.
I’m sneaking peaks, but not conversing and sharing. Pretending I’m not online, because supposedly I need a social media break (and because being addicted is somewhat embarrassing). But the truth is that my vacation is awesome and I enjoy being online, probably similar to how some people enjoy reading the Sunday paper.
Some highlights I discovered and didn’t share during last week’s feigned Twitter hiatus…
Aid and development
Loved @lrakoto’s great piece on some of the current big dilemmas/discussions in aid…. Aid is about the people, right?
Read @morealtitude’s intense and harrowing World Humanitarian Day series part 1, part 2, and part 3. Wow. Watched OCHA’s beautifully done world humanitarian day video (and couldn’t help but wonder how much it cost to make it). Felt sad that humanitarian aid needs so much marketing lately to be seen as good. Went back and forth as usual, reading this week’s pros and cons of how humanitarian/international aid work needs a total overhaul and how it’s vital work in many places.
Saw Pakistan continue to get less attention than Haiti even as the situation gets worse and worse. Read an interesting piece from a colleague on how women and girls and culture are being impacted by the floods. Saw another colleague, @warisara, (experienced communicator who worked on the ground during the Asian tsunami and who’s now arrived to Pakistan) questioning why aid organizations have to keep showing graphic, horrifying visual images in order to draw any attention to a crisis, and wondering if each disaster has to be worse than the last in order to get the public to care. What an unfortunate dilemma — how to avoid undignified, disrespectful images and still manage to raise any funds.
Saw a sad exchange after my employer posted an appeal for Pakistan… Someone argued that we should not help Pakistanis because ‘they wish to see us dead’. They based their reasoning on ‘Christian principles’. What was heartening at least were all the other comments arguing against that view, arguing for helping Pakistan after the devastating floods, and seeing past religions and hatred and fundamentalist behavior.
ICT4D and m4D
Enjoyed the debate started by @Kiwanja on the need for an active mobile community for addressing fundamental, deep questions and thinking, and bridging the gap between development folks and technology folks. (Something I encounter and write about often, such as here and here). Liked this Venn Diagram on the intersection of m4D, apps4D and ICT4D.
Noticed that @mambenanje got himself a copy of an article about him in Brussels Airlines in-flight mag (also incuded Erik Hersman, Ethan Zuckerman). Remembered how cool it was being on that flight to Kenya, opening up the in-flight magazine, and seeing names of people I know.
Saw that @wayan_vota has a beautiful new baby girl. And that miraculously he’s been able to re-follow me on Twitter after months of his account auto-unfollowing me time and time again (though he’s explained it also happens when he tries to follow @billeasterly…. weird – and really not sure what I have in common with the esteemed Professor that makes Wayan’s account consistently unfollow us both….).
Pakistan and the ‘Ground Zero mosque’
Due to my self-imposed Twitter ban and bet with @ernstsuur that I could really stay off Twitter for a week, I reverted to posting on Facebook and managed to upset the good folks back home in the heartland (Indiana) when I posted a link about the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’. Normally I don’t post political stuff on FB because of the variety of people that I’m connected to there — it’s hard to not offend at least someone. Facebook has become everything and nothing, pretty much. I also re-posted an article on the ‘mosque’ and elitism (and thought it would be pretty fun to see Palin and @talesfromthhood debating elitism) and a link to the Daily Show giving it to Fox News. This provoked pretty emotional and strong comments (see below) from someone I was very good friends with in high school, but who’s gone down quite a different path than I have… eg, the military:
“So lets encourage all of our moderate Muslim friends to fulfill their religious duty. If they beleive (sic) that the extremist versions of Jihad and Sharia are incongruent with the teachings of Mohammed, then it is their responsibility to wage Jihad (lets let them pick the definition) against the extremists. When have created a predominantly tolerant Islam, I will finance a Catholic church in Saudi Arabia and will bless the establishment of a mosque anywhere in the U.S.
Until then, me and others like me will continue to spread AND DEFEND the basic rights that everyone in America, including the Muslim Americans who want to build this Mosque, enjoy. I invite all do-gooders everywhere to stand shoulder to should with me and my Soldiers in those countries where Muslims are not tolerant under Sharia……Saudi Arabi, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria (Muslim areas), Egypt, Buhrain, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Oman, UAE, Algeria, Mauritania, Somalia, etc., etc. “
Rather than get into a debate, I went with that whole “let’s agree to disagree” thing. But seriously. I can’t wait to get back to Twitter.
Rio de Janeiro
Luckily I’m not actually spending all my time in front of my computer. I’m mixing in a lot of other good stuff, like deep philosophical conversations with my 18 year old son, capoeira with him at Grupo Capoeira Senzala Cultural Center in Bairro Botafogo, naps, beach, pictures from the top of Pao de Azucar, and late night samba and caipirinhas at Rio Scenarium and other great places with good friends, old and new….