Global standards of diplomatic communications are changing. Almost half of the world’s population now have a media channel. DataReportal published excellent statistics and insights into the world of social media in their 2020 Global digital overview. Two key takeaways from this massive global compendium published on January 30, 2020 are that, at the start of 2020, the recorded number of internet users stands at more than 4.5 billion people worldwide. And active social media users have surpassed 3.8 billion. A 9 per cent (321 million new users) increase since January of last year. Diplomatic corps now have the means to engage within the countries they work in on a massive scale, not just through elites.
The universe consists of diverse, varied and unique individuals that are all still a social species at the core. And at the moment, 3.8 billion of them have a media channel where they can broadcast their views to an audience of more than 1. As never before, netizens have the opportunity to convene together and organise their voices to drive change – albeit on the social media world. A world with no highly structured borders. A world that is populated with beings who want to be seen and heard. A world where more people believe that their voice matters, no matter where they log in from – be it from the cradle of mankind or from the North Pole. What does diplomatic discourse look like in such a world?
Regardless of the medium, peacemaking remains the work of a good diplomat. In the words of Tom Fletcher, “Negotiation and peacemaking will remain as important to our collective future as to our past.” A dedicated diplomat is set to connect and cooperate more effectively if they understand how to influence the local online community, reflect global standards for peace and also how to increase digital cooperation between states.
In a connected world, statecraft and diplomatic dialogue calls for collaboration of the highest understanding. One surefire way you can increase digital cooperation, build trust, and retain good will is by establishing meaningful connections with online influencers. Second is by sharing your point of view in an authentic and purposeful method. And another way to win is by engaging with other diplomatic corps in a complementary and transparent way. The netizens are listening.
Organising remains the key to diplomatic prowess. You. Yes, you, have the opportunity to leverage locally established online platforms. Just make sure when you cooperate with in-country brands and personalities, it’s around a geopolitically aligned purpose. And that the people who you are connecting with online are building for the prosperity of the whole society. The more you can organise people around great ideas – that they can bet on – to change the world, the more your diplomatic goodwill will grow within a nation
And while you are at it, never forget that humans love to interact with other humans that make them feel important – it is a universal need. So always weave in some form of human element into your work, online engagements and interactions. Emojis, group selfies and snapshots of things you truly cherish are quick ways of generating positive emotions among your audiences.
As a diplomat, go ahead and incorporate your unique point of view to your host country’s digital space. Like Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, Lenin’s pamphlets, Churchill’s radio broadcasts and Nyerere’s writings, you have the power to master the medium of this age to establish meaningful connections and share your popular interests. Just make sure you are cooperating with a widely diverse list of influencers, stakeholders and netizens, so as to prevent the walls of echo chambers and filter bubbles going up around you. And also to ensure that you are not leaving anyone behind as you build together with your partners and host country a better future for all.