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By now all of us know that the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is dead. Everyone has watched it on the news or seen a video on YouTube. Or perhaps, read it on Facebook or Twitter. In a span of minutes, information has spread around the whole world. Today’s technology has enabled us to have access to the world like never before. Young people do not need to meet physically to have a group conversation or be present at school, as they have virtual classrooms. Most teenagers spend an average 30 hours a week in front of a screen be it the television, or computer. However, how do they utilize this time? Is it by analyzing photographs of someone’s new dress, or reading wall-to-walls of fellow friends? Or perhaps, by watching movies or playing games on the computer?
There has been a lot of criticism about today’s technology. However, it is not the technology itself that needs to be criticized but its use. In the words of Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility”, and this implies to the power of technology. This power is so great that it is the key to our future. The Arab Spring itself is the best recent example of technology’s great potential. Technology was used to empower others and make their voices heard. Nevertheless; sometimes, technology does not empower us but enslaves us as we get sucked into its digital world. At times, we overlook the pressing issues of our world and loose ourselves in it. Our world indeed is taking a new turn, but in which direction?
With the dependence of our world on technology we cannot lose our own independence. The same technology used to spend pointless hours procrastinating has mobilized youth in the Jasmine Revolution. The same technology used to gossip about others has exposed the dictators of despotic regimes. For once, it is not governments or higher authorities that have been empowered but it is the youth of today.
Perhaps if we not only grieve over the death of Steve Jobs, the great founder of today’s technology, but grieve with Libyan people over the suffering that they have undergone; we might demonstrate this independence. If for a change we do not check the latest scandals on Facebook, but message the kid in class that does not talk much, we might demonstrate independence. Maybe if we do not let this power overtake us, but work hand in hand with it – one day, we might understand the value of “great responsibility”. One day when we truly understand this great responsibility is the day the world will witness today’s youth’s great power.
Posted by Shilpita Mathews
We all are familiar with the current flooding situation in Thailand. The issue has received great prominence in the global media, whilst Thailand fights the worst floods it has faced in the last five decades. The ongoing floods have been continuously featured in the news for months, as teenage ‘Bangkokians’ have been surfing through tv channels; desperate to hear of something new. None raised their voices. None were ready to act. But things are different now. The city of angels has not been spared from the floods. Bangkok is at risk.
Warnings have gone out everywhere, from roadside businesses to schools. Bangkok is in a state of frenzy as it has suddenly realized the potential threat it faces. Sandbags have piled up as students everywhere keep their fingers crossed; hoping for days off from school.
Almost overnight the flooding in Thailand has become a highly debated topic. Schools have issued guidelines and regulations applicable in a flooding situation. Students fear their schools are in peril, or water on the streets may come in the way of their weekend shopping at the mall.
Suddenly, the hearts of Bangkokian teenagers go out to villagers in Ayutthaya who have lost their livelihoods, or to those residing on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, who have lost their lives. The sympathy of Bangkok’s youth is finally revealed. As a response, schools in Bangkok initiated immediate fundraising activities to help sponsor boats for flood victims. As a school, NIST managed to sponsor a target of 100 boats in less than a span of two days. At our TEDxYouth host school Concordian International School, student-driven charity drives raised more than 100,000 Baht and truckloads of dry food, clothing, and blankets for those affected by flooding. Such is the power of the Bangkokian youth, supporting fellow victims with aid and relief, the change in their pockets making a difference in someone’s life.
Yet, at this very moment, there is another teenager in the globe, bored of the news about Thailand’s floods. Desperately surfing tv channels to find something new. This after all, is the great irony of life. The floods were never a priority, until they took a major role in each teenager’s life. Perhaps if teenagers took a break from their self-centered world, they might notice the disparity around them. If their thoughts did not revolve around buying branded shoes, but around putting themselves in the shoes of distressed victims. If only it was not pity that initiated these new found philanthropic activities. If only they did not care for victims because they might face a similar situation in the future.
Perhaps one day, we teenagers will demonstrate compassion not because it affects our future but because we want to make a difference in someone’s present. Two days of fundraising has revealed the capability of today’s youth; for whom nothing is impossible. Together we can truly make a difference in the world – so great is the power that lies in our hands. Yet, the undermining question is: how will we choose to act?
Posted by Shilpita Mathews
Due to the flooding in Thailand, TEDxYouth Krungthep has been moved from November 19, 2011 to March 31, 2012.
Here’s why we TEDx.