A lot of the time social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, are often in the news for bad stuff like people telling lies, or being used to bully people. Usually, the people doing this take advantage of hashtags and viral trends in order to make their messages go reach a lot of people.
But did you know that there are activists who are using these exact same methods in order to beat the lies and the bullying? A great example of this can be seen by peace activists in Pakistan and India, who have been using social media in order to help build peaceful conversations between the two countries.
In order to understand the importance of these peace activists, we first need to quickly talk about the main thing India and Pakistan are fighting about, the region of Kashmir.
Kashmir is an area that both countries claim to own, and have fought a few small wars over, with the United Nations (UN) eventually stepping in to limit the destruction. Even though there isn’t a full blown war in Kashmir right now, and most people in Kashmir do not want to be part of either country, they remain under very harsh military rule. You can imagine this being kind of like when you are caught in a fight between two of your friends who are mad at each other, but they are taking it out on you, but much much worse!
A lot of young people in both Pakistan and India see how Kashmir is being treated as wrong, and that it is a constant place of tension for both countries. Even on social media, war is often proposed as the only solution to the conflict.
So in order to bring more pressure on their governments to seek peace, youth activists based in Pakistan and India have started organizing themselves. Like those who started the We Are One group.
The purpose of We Are One is to increase social media contact between people of both countries so that they can work together in peace making and helping their governments to find a peaceful solution.
This has resulted in a lot of creative uses of social media in order to get attention. For example, hashtags like #MakeChaiNotWar has been used which takes advantage of both countries’ shared history and love for the spiced tea.
These social media peace advocates have been doing projects like Aao Dosti Karein (Come Let’s Make Friends) which hopes to help address some of the harmful opinions members of both countries have about each other by connecting them over apps and social media groups.
It is important to mention though that these activities will not be able to solve all of the issues related to Kashmir, but they do bring important attention to these issus. They humanize those involved, and break ground for future peace efforts, and most important of all they are growing! The UN has even started to fund youth groups who seek to help in peace making through the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund which helps young people run peace projects like We Are One, and Friendship Across Borders.
The coolest part about all of this is that a lot of the peace making work is led by young people, showing that you are never too young to care about big topics like peace!