Lina Khatib’s essay Communicating Islamic Fundamentalism as Global Citizenship introduces the interesting concept of “New Patriotism”. Khatib discusses how the Internet, by fortifying group identity, pushed Islamic fundamentalism to a global scale.
This is just one obvious example of the Internet as an identity tool. It reminds me of a more positive case- the way social campaigns these days incorporate the Internet for engaging and outreaching.
Take the NIOT campaign for example. Not in Our Town was originally a short PBS documentary made by independent filmmaker Patrice O’ Neill. The film received many positive feedback after it aired in 1995, so Patrice and her group decided to take it further. They built an interactive website to encourage users to share their own experiences, provide sources and even upload videos on this issue. Within months, it turned into this on-going movement against neighborhood hate crime. Fans and supporters from around the country connect with each other through their website. Now in order to communicate with a timely manner, apart from the website, NIOT also have a facebook page, a twitter account and a YouTube channel.
Apparently, the Internet can help a campaign or organization to attract attention, grow fan base, keep people informed, and raise donation. But the hidden power of the Internet is, as more people get involved, it can create a sense of group identity and a shared sympathy across different nations and cultures. This kind of united power has nothing to do with globalization or nationalism, but it can be even more influential and effective.
With the help of the Internet, grassroots movement is changing our world, for good.