Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taking My Online Connections Offline

At the Consulate's Social Media Launch conducted in association with Facebook India and GVK One
I want to thank everyone who came out to participate in the launch of the Consulate’s Social Media activities.  I was amazed by the interest and enthusiasm of the crowd there.  It was great to meet people who are interested in engaging with us.  I really appreciated the GVK One Mall’s hosting the event—it was a great setting, and especially good that cricket fans didn’t have to choose between our event and watching the World Cup. 

That Sachin Tendulkar reached his century during the ceremony only added to the excitement level at the Mall.  It was also an honor to share the platform with Kirthiga Reddy of Facebook. I find her an incredibly articulate speaker and an inspiring role model for youth.  Our consulate staff, as usual, did a great job, and it was wonderful that a number of our employees came out to join the event—including my guest blogger from a few weeks ago, Jeremy Jewett.

Diplomacy has come a long way from the old days when a diplomat’s role, outside of consular work issuing visas and taking care of citizens, focused almost exclusively on conducting government-to-government discussions.  We now have a much broader vision of the work of what constitutes diplomacy ( 

Here at the Consulate General in Hyderabad, our two fundamental missions are consular work and fostering the people-to-people connections that form the foundation of the U.S.-India partnership.  As a generationally-challenged individual, I’m just learning about how social media can help us achieve our outreach objectives.  I’ve never blogged before, but I’m finding this a great way to share my impressions as I learn about India—and as a way to connect directly with the people of Andhra Pradesh.  (I’d also love to connect with the people from Orissa—but I’ve never heard back from anyone there.  So Orissa, let me know if you’re reading this!) 

Social Media is particularly intriguing to me because it lets us hear back from the people we are trying to engage.  That’s not always comfortable for us, because you don’t always say what we want to hear, but it’s good for us to know what you care about and what you think.  So, except on visa questions, keep using our Facebook page to let us know what’s on your mind.  We may not always give you a substantive response, but we will take in and consider what you have to say. 

In addition to fostering the kind of dialog we seek, I know Social Media is proving immensely helpful in a variety of ways.  My colleagues at the Embassy in New Delhi used Social Media extensively after the flooding in Leh and Ladakh.  They found Facebook a great way of communicating with Americans affected by the floods and with their family members worried about them in the U.S. 

 Today it’s helping loved ones stay in touch with victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  And there is no doubt that social media has been a factor in the mounting wave of expression of democratic aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Calling these “Facebook revolutions” is a major oversimplification, but it’s clear that at a minimum, activists used social media as a tool to mobilize like-minded citizens.  It’s really great that the same tools that help individuals share information with their families and let us exchange ideas with the public are also well-suited to other communications challenges. 

Again, thanks for coming out to meet us.  And let’s keep up the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Social media is certainly bridging the gaps between the internet world and the real world. Sure, something really exciting. Cheers :)