Ioannis Syrigos, PhD
(Interactive Media Consultant)
Social Media remains a hot topic nowadays. It is expanding exponentially, connecting more and more people together from all over the world. Its power to unite has the potential to bring radical changes to the current climate of economic despair facing Greece by drawing together the Greeks of Diaspora as a powerful force.
The Power of Social Media
If we try to define social media, we would say that it is a group of Internet based applications that allow users to interact and communicate using multiple forms of media (text, voice, images, videos and more). At the same time it is constantly evolving and shifting to adjust more to people’s needs and activities. But just as social media adjusts to our needs, so too do we need to adjust to social media – it is taking the world by storm whether we are ready for it or not.
The figures are astronomical - if YouTube was a country, it would be the third most populated nation in the world, and twenty hours of video are uploaded to the site every single minute; Facebook has more than 250 million active users globally and more than 120 million log on to Facebook at least once each day; MySpace has 60 million unique users every month and Twitter has more than 10 million global users.
There is no doubt that social media is a powerful tool and we have seen some extraordinary examples of that recently. In Spain, masses of young people who used social media to organise their activities, gathered in public plazas nationwide, protesting unemployment and exclusionary politics; in India one man’s campaign against corruption grabbed the attention of social media forces, bringing tens of thousands to the streets in support and forcing the Government to agree to the drafting of a comprehensive anti-corruption law. All around the world, ordinary people are using these new tools of communication to force people to listen to what they care about. If used properly, social media can draw people together and create the basis for significant social, economic and political change.
Greeks as a United Force
At the moment, Greece is going through a difficult era, where unity and people with a vision are desperately needed for things to change. Many mistakes and many interventions have been done in the past and now we face the consequences of those actions. However, now is not the time to wallow in past mistakes. A new approach and attitude is needed for Greece to rise above this crisis. Its difficulties and challenges must be viewed as opportunity for positive change and this can only take place if Greeks all over the world work as one. We only need to reflect on the uniting force of Leonidas of Sparta to know that unity with a common goal has the power to change history. The power lies with the people, their actions and their voices. However, the responsibility to act does not just lie with those currently living in Greece.
According to the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, there are currently around 7 million Greeks living outside Greece. Many of them are great achievers and many exemplify high standards of morality and professionalism and carry with them a huge array of skills. If three hundred soldiers of Sparta managed to change the course of history, 7 million can certainly do it. Under the correct leadership things can and will change. But what is needed is a coming together of Greeks from all over the world, combining brilliant minds with the highly skilled and the highly willed.
Through this means, the entire dynamic of the Greeks of Diaspora can contribute to the recovery from the current economic and ethical crisis facing their homeland.
Greeks abroad can contribute to a ‘new Greece’ and a new perspective. This can be through investment, entrepreneurship, new opportunities, public and political intervention, international networking and know-how, all combined with the uniting and powerful force of social media.
The Social Media Weapon
Social Media is a powerful weapon for fighting the forces that have dragged Greece down to the depths of despair. It is the means that can bring people together to form groups with common objectives. As David Sacks, CEO of Yammer has said, the phrase ‘information is power’ used to mean that hoarding information gave you power. Now, he says, “we’re seeing that sharing information is power. The more you can share, the more you can help other people.”
Social media, if used properly, can create teams that will contribute, assist and support the country to rise above these difficult times. The task of rebuilding Greece is no longer in the hands of the few. As Management Consultant and Author, Gary Hamel, has said “The idea of a hierarchy that fundamentally empowers the few and disempowers the many is more or less dead.” These changes suggest a bright future for Greece. As a consequence of social media, the world is becoming more democratic and reflective of the will of ordinary people.
Social media can utilise a vast human resource - outside Greece there is another Greece of equal if not greater, importance. The majority of the Greeks living abroad are more ‘Greek’ than the Greeks living in Greece. They value our history and our values. They hold strong ethical standards, respect each other and are proud to be Greeks. They also have the benefit of being separated from the hopelessness and corruption that has been permeating the country. This gives them a greater strength and ability to fight for their homeland.
In the past, the unification of Greeks all over the World would have been difficult if not impossible. But now in a split second, it is possible to contact anyone anywhere, and in real time, to exchange opinions, to have an online meeting and to make decisions. This opportunity should not be left unused. It is imperative to take advantage of this tool.
If enough people gather under one flag, one group with one goal, then changes are possible and nothing will be able to stop it. And here is the role of the Social Media.
It can create initiatives and forces without any political colour, form a team of professionals and successful Greeks that will work towards a common goal - to create a new Golden Era for Greece, to be an example to the World and to shine once again.