Dr. Amit Nagpal Storyteller, Social Entrepreneur and Author
“Understanding languages and other cultures build bridges. It is the fastest way to bring the world closer together and to the truth. Building empathy and understanding, people will be able to see their similarities before the differences”, Suzy Kassem beautifully puts up how we can build bridges between cultures. Social media has become an important platform for people from across the globe to converse with and understand each other. Social media has democratised storytelling and has empowered individuals and organisations to share their stories. With so many parts of the world currently going through conflict, it is all the more critical to build cultural bridges between nations and cultures by sensitising people. Social media often provides alternate narrative to mass media and creates a balance. Stories on borderless social media can evoke empathy, and help us appreciate similarities & respect differences thus creating better understanding between people across borders. Human stories are powerful tools for building bridges between cultures and people. The classic example is the “Humans of New York” (HONY) Facebook page which has inspired many pages in India like Humans of Bombay, Humans of Delhi, Humans of Bangalore and so on. HONY now has over twenty million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience a peep into the daily lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. Over the past five years, it has also expanded to feature stories from over twenty different countries. These social media pages prove to us that stories of humans all across has the same vulnerability and people go through similar struggles, experiences, emotions, successes, and failures throughout their entire life. It is evident that people all across the world have similar desire for love and belonging. To build global bridges between cultures, nations and people we need to focus on these very similarities rather than our differences. SM4E Awards is a good example of encouraging use of social media to build global bridges. The awards are open to organisations from South Asia and therefore build bridges between people of South Asian countries. The role of SM4E awards become all the more critical since SAARC has been an inactive platform in the recent years.