Hosted at Ster-Kinekor in Rosebank by African Monitor and NONZēRO Africa, this debate brought together South African celebrities to discuss the ways in which social media can be used to bring about effective social change, and how this responsibility is shirked due to a lack of personal gain.
The panel consisted of TV presenter, actor, entrepreneur, and UNICEF advocate, Maps Maponyane, author, actress, and entrepreneur Ayanda Borotho, and singer/songwriter, and recording artist Amanda Black. The first session of the debate, Social Media: Whose left behind, that ultimately challenged how social media could be used to benefit others, and aid social cohesion, but often it is used for self-gain. A lengthy conversion ensued about how social media is too “polarised” for long-standing engagement and awareness for important issues for now. It was suggested that this is changing, and as it changes, “A hashtag will be able to make a difference”.
Social Media Education was the title of the second session where the perks of social media were discussed and contrasted to traditional media forms. Commenting on the potential harm that people of influence can do with their platforms, Maps Maponyane said, “Many celebrities like to show people that they’d like to get involved, but they never do because there isn’t anything in it for them”.
He gave an example of a crowd-funding initiative he had started where he had contacted approximately 31 celebrities/influencers to use a hashtag and create a video to help raise funds for students to have the opportunity to go to university. In the end, he said, only one person out of the 31 did what was asked to raise awareness.
The main realisation that emerged from the debate was that ” a hashtag can’t make a real difference if it isn’t coupled with the necessary action” said Maps Maponyane. He gave the example of Instagram users changing their display pictures to blue to stand in support of the suffering Sudanese and raise awareness. People changed their pictures, but after a week, the movement turned out to be a passing trend thereby failing to create any meaningful change.
The public has been encouraged to share their story on any project or initiative they’re a part of that is working to attain the Social Development Goals (SDGs). Share your story with the #ShareYourStory and #SocialMedia4Good, and the winners will be treated to a meet and greet with one of the three panelists, as well as one other gift from the respective panelists.