There is no “Us” and “Them: How social media can forge cultural bridges


I recently had the great privilege of participating in a public forum on how media – including social media – can be used to forge cultural bridges. Our hosts, the Levantine Center, just released this video of the discussion, and in light of the continued debate over the proposed mosque five blocks from Ground Zero, I want to share this condensed version of our discussion.

Our special guest for the evening was Farah Pandith, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Muslim Communities along with Alesia Weston from the Sundance Institute and our wonderful moderator, Mariam Atash Nawabi.

Of particular interest is how different sectors of our economy – government, non-profits and the private sector – are all working to adjust to the many ways that technology is changing our societies and to enlist social media in the service of positive change. That very connectedness and the empathy it inspires have been powerful tools in relief efforts during the Haiti earthquake, BP Gulf oil spill and most recently with the Pakistan floods.

My hope is that social media can be equally effective in encouraging tolerance, understanding and compassion between different cultures and religions around the world. You can follow Farah Pandith’s work on twitter at @farah_pandith

Do you see a role for social media in building a more peaceful global community? Or do you think our differences are insurmountable?