Social entrepreneur Anil Chitrakar was one of the presentater during the Mashable’s Social Media Day Meetup in Kathmandu on June 30. At the event organized by Xplore International in partnership with Microsoft Innovation Center – Nepal, Chitrakar spoke about NepalUnites. NepalUnites is a social media campaign popularly/satirically called the Facebook Movement and Chitrakar is one among a few initiators.
In his presentation, he outlined the need and aim of NepalUnites, the challenges of using social media for social change, along with ideas and events of the group. I took down a few notes of his presentation and here they are:
BY ANIL CHITRAKAR
Yesterday, we asked people to come to the Football World Cup qualifying match between Nepal and East Timor. Why football? Because football, or sports, unites Nepalis. Likewise, we are also supporting music, releasing theme songs, because music also unites Nepalis.
The fundamental aim of NepalUnites is uniting Nepalis.
A few days ago there was news of five people dying as the ropeway bridge (tuin) snapped on Trishuli river. Today, I went to see a science exhibition and there was on display a better ropeway designed by a seventh grader. There are problems, but there are also people with solutions, and people with resources, if all of them come together, problems could be solved.
Individually, we Nepalis are excellent, collectively we are a failure.
Social media provides a platform to move us from individuals to collectiveness. We are trying to use the platform to solve problems.
NepalUnites is a like a spectrum. On one extreme of it is accountability. We are asking leaders to be accountable to people – in the events demanding constitution. On the other extreme of the spectrum is responsibility. That’s for all of us to understand that we should be active and responsible for social good.
In our movement, we are neither challenging the system (democracy or multi-party system) nor blaming any leader individually (therefore not the people who voted for them). We believe the problem is not in the system but within ourselves.
There is apathy – thinking oneself not related to suffering of others, otherwise why only should journalists rally when a journalist is beaten (NepalUnites held a silence protest for press freedom). Why all Nepalis can’t stand behind them? And, why there is not bigger participation in the events we organize. Because there is fear.
People fear to come on the street, sometime also because they fear what other will say if they are seen standing on Bagmati Bridge with a placard (NepalUnites organize a silent protest every Thursday evening at the bridge). We are using social media, such as Facebook, to help people overcome fear and feel apathy – and join other Nepalis.
One of the programs of NepalUnites is to erase political slogans from public walls and paint them with art. Political slogans divide us so we are painting all walls white and then asking artists and children to create art that unites us.
The most challenging test for us is to bring people to action. Will Facebook users liking the page or click on attending act and come to field leaving the computers behind? That’s what we want to test and see the results.
Social media is only a mean, not an end – and Facebook is only a tool.
NOTES: NepalUnites could be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NepalUnites and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NepalUnites. NepalUnites organize events every Thursday at the Bagmati Bridge, Thapathali from 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm where Nepalis line up on the bridge with flags of Nepal and placards of slogans; and every Saturday at various places. To get updates of the events, send an SMS stating Nepal to 2426.
DISCLAIMER: I have taken the liberty to rearrange his thoughts; make slight changes to clarify but trying my best to keep his ideas intact. I sometime participate in the events of NepalUnites and though I am not in core groups, I vocally support their initiatives.