Diasporas and the Internet

Naomi Guisintanner

Diasporas and the Internet

When I think about the Internet, the first thing that comes to mind is social media networks. Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, allow millions of people to connect via the internet with their friends and family all over the world. Founded in 2004, Facebook is currently listed as one of the top social media website. With over 100 million active users, Facebook has become a vital element in our everyday life.

Whether your scrolling through photos, commenting on the walls of others, playing games (like me), or video chatting; Facebook definitely help us stay connected to the ones we love. For Caribbean immigrants as well as many other immigrants who live outside of their homeland, Facebook has become one of the best free ways immigrants are able to stay connected to their homeland. In the Digital Diasporas: Identity and Transitional Engagement by Jennifer Brinkerhoff, Brinkerhoff explains the way in which immigrants living outside of their  homeland, use the Internet as a tool for promoting change in their homeland. According to Brinkerhoff, ” in the case of Somali diaspora (Somalinet), a cybercommunity, highlights how diasporas use the internet to consider prospect for peace in their home country and generate understanding across clan divides within the diaspora. The Tibetan diasporas organization (Tibet Board) offers opportunities to explore how diasporas can use the internet to sustain a homeland identity when reparation is unlikely, and to question, shape, and promote political perspectives on the fate of the homeland. And the Nepali case, Thamel.com, demonstrates how the internet can be used to sustain diaspora links to the homeland and channel remittance (particularly form migrant workers) to contribute to the local homeland economy as whole, rather than individual families alone” (Brinkerhoff, p.18). Brinkerhoff does an excellent job of explaining how different diasporas use the internet to stay connected to their homeland and also, to promote change in their homeland.

over the course of several years, Facebook and Twitter have become vital tools in prompting change all over the world. From President Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, to the occupy wall street movement, social media has definitely become a tool for promoting change. While browsing the Internet, I came across a social media site called Mashable which displays a list of “9 Social Media Uprising That Sought to Change the World”. The web site offer a an information pertaining to different social media uprisings that sought to change the world.

The internet can be used for more than just playing games, commenting on posts, and surfing through photos. And if everyone who has access to the internet could simply take a little time out of their day to use the internet in a way that helps promote change, the world might actually become a better place for all.

3 comments

  1. Margaret Cook

    I think my biggest problem now with social media activism is that it is very short lived. Within as short as a 24 hour news cycle, hurt feelings and calls to act will be forgotten with the next “big” story. I am curious to see newer models counteract this and find a way for continued sustainability.

  2. I would like to hone in on your point here about the internet being a great and inexpensive medium through which immigrants are able to stay connected to their homeland. Yes, yes … we have the world wide web, but often times we forget how the use of our cell phones allows us to do this too, through the many free apps. Of course the use of these apps like Viber and Whatsapp depend on internet connectivity to work, but it’s a different feel. Most certainly users don’t feel like they are using the internet, but rather their cell phones. We haven’t really talked about the internet through mobile devices extensively but I think it’s worth our attention. Professor?

  3. Great points, Margaret. What I also think the internet and social media offers to people trying to get involved in changing the world is a sort of instant gratification. For some just simple clicking “like” or sharing a post is getting involved. The cost benefit analysis of becoming a part of a movement has changed. This I think is a negative the core supporting groups of social movement in my observation seem to have shrink while peripheral “membership” have grown. For example those who claim to be a part of Occupy Wall Street because they follow the Facebook but have never been to any organized OWS event, meeting or activism.

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