the WORSE part of advocacy on social media [tools for change?]

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For a long time, the streets and the social-media platforms are where advocacy lives and breathes. Gone were the old-school ways of sharing the passion face-to-face with another worthy ally or opponent, though now I do enjoy seeing (and reading) advocates pitting themselves against politicians, corporate captains and other advocates sitting on the opposite side. Nowadays Twitter is the radical-age of swift messages and propaganda. It is where a wannabe makes his career in advocacy, plying his wits and cunning against his rivals and foes as skillfully as a raging barbarian armed with a wooden spiked-club.

While his Twitter life depends upon his proficiency with the keyboard or smart phone, the repetition of shared news and views hang in the balance. How will messages such as those incite and provoke the minds of mankind? Even when (IF) society changes its perception of a particular social issue (such as access to clean drinking water or prevention of child abuse, as a human right) who is left on the ground to ensure the delivery of that basic right? People love to talk, gossip and lecture, but where are the grassroot workers for the community? Or are they fossils waiting to be buried.

An advocate’s primary focus is in spreading his views and news via social media to the masses or a group of concerned individuals, as frequently and as accurately as possible. Though this causes many ‘advocates’ to lead sheltered lives in the cities or in the comforts of their living rooms. How many advocates strike out into the real world to find the glory of advocacy and meeting the needs of the common folk in the slums or in the rainforests?

Twitter and other social media is adept at manipulating or bringing about the emotions of others. Why not use such facilities, and as we Malaysians say “turun padang” ~ go down to the field and help someone. Stop talking, start being part of the change from direct action.


An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at and @bedlamfury

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