I’ve never carried on a non-web conversation with Niv from Israel, but I consider him a friend. I don’t understand his native language or his country’s plight in the Middle East, but I know he is a friend. And I know he is passionate about trying to communicate the truth. Not the political truth, the human truth. [I’m asking Niv to cross post this article in Hebrew on his Techpoliti site. Let’s get the conversation started. Here is the Hebrew translation from Google Translate.]
When we met, back in 2009, via Skype, we were talking about my political activist site MeterThis.net and his site that was sharing the human toll of incoming rocket bombs hitting the homes of his friends and neighbors. It was a simple site. It is a very complex issue. And perhaps it is the MOST COMPLEX POLITICAL issue of our time.
So why did my connection with Niv flourish where so many others have waned? What about our “translated” Facebook conversations have kept our conversations and aspirations going? Why do I care, what NIV is up to? I can’t even read his posts 90% of the time.
And yet, I would do almost anything to help him get his message out. WHY? I’m clear that I don’t know what his message or his agenda is. Occasionally I’m not sure he does either, but that’s probably a translation issue.
We have nothing in common. We share a love of social media as an outreach and humanizing force. We do believe that social change and political change CAN happen with social media as a tool. And I suppose that is the thread that has kept our conversations alive spanning the 4 years since we shared our first “for no reason” skype call.
He’s in his early thirtes. He’s very active in social media in Israel. He is articulate and funny. He has his heart up front where you can see it. When you talk to him, you will smile just like he does: easily and often.
But that’s not enough.
I’m not clear on what his next plan is. We spoke on Tuesday about his “day job” and his passion play. He’s working (has been working since I’ve known him) to bring the two passions together in a sustainable model, to provide a living support for himself. (at this point, I believe he is unmarried)
Today I got an email from him, in Hebrew.
With the help of the genies at Google Translate, I read his message. It is an invitation to his new apartment in Israel. It is an open invitation to come share his prosperity and company. It contains a map to his new digs, and a call to action to come visit him soon.
I have no idea how I got included in this email. But I responded. In English.
He wrote back in English.
I guess this is a kind of love story. Not between two men, but between to humans interested in understanding and furthering the dialogue that builds connection. We have very little in common, but we share a sense of wonder at it all. And in this we recognize each other as connectors.
I’m not concerned with his politics, or where we are going with this. Someday he will get the funds to attend SXSW in Austin, and he will have a free place to stay. And we will share the wine, he offers in his email to local friends. Somehow we are LOCAL. Somehow the tech has kept us talking and joking and exploring what this social media experience can be used for. Can social media power social change?
Here is NIV’s Facebook page for his new venture. Engage at your own risk. But engage with an open mind.
For me, the connection is enough.
We (you, me, Niv) have no clue about all the forces and influences in this political flash point in the Middle East. What we can know, is the people in the area. We can listen to the humans rather than the politicians. We can ask for poetry and heart rather than manifestos.
That’s what I believe will be the tipping point of this political furor. I know I am idealistic. I know I have no idea what I’m talking about. And when it comes to Niv and Israel, I really know I don’t know what I’m talking about. But the point is, I am talking. And Niv is talking. And we’re trying to talk to each other using social media and free tech. What a wonderful world we live in. Maybe the Global Mind is still possible.
Update: Fun to see this:
- MeterThis.net – Groundswell for Good
- 99 Voices – 99 Stickers – Facebook Political Community
- TechPoliti – Facebook page for Israel social news network
- Moveon.org – started when Clinton was being impeached over the definition of “is”
- 99 Spring – Moveon grass roots activism movement
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