Paltalk-aided social, religious, political and business conferences are thriving around the world. As far as the Oromo diaspora is concerned, by and large, paltalk-aided conferences concern political debates. Nonetheless, there are religious based gatherings underway, but in the minority.
Does the advent of paltalk-aided discourses among the Oromo herald a revolution in strengthening the Oromo national movement for liberation, or is its rosy promise a bubble about to burst?
Most serious politicians still prefer face-to-face meetings rather than web chat. I do not blame them. Experts on communication estimate around 60-70% of information exchange takes place through body language. When you are communicating using telephone, paltalk or even written materials, you will have to read between the lines to enhance your perception of the real message. In particular, such difficulties must be considered in light of the fact that people, when discussing sensitive issues, might as a matter of fact say the opposite of what they really would like to say or believe. In these scenarios the real message could be gathered from the body language. Another potential problem with the latest technology appears to be ensuring confidentiality when running open public debate.
Nevertheless, advances in technology have, undoubtedly, made it possible for efficient and economically sensible net-working. On the other hand, another positive benefit of web based chat might be that people may say more than they are prepared to say in a face-to-face situation for fear of embarrassing themselves, in case they say something different. In this era of global warming, paltalk-aided meetings are also attractive to those who would like to make a head start in reducing their carbon foot-prints and do their bit to the good of mankind and the generations to come by helping the survival of the planet.
I for one do not consider such a project unworthy of the effort. Nor do I think it is God sent magic bullet that will resolve our apathy. At least, it can be a catalyst for something positive. These days some professionals are first trained in virtual reality, including pilots, surgeons etc. Then they will take their skills to the real world and test it. Similarly, if the young Oromos treat the paltalk rooms for what they are - virtual world, and take the initiative forward and come together in the real world, we may benefit from the technology to some extent. I would very much hope that the motivation from the paltalk rooms translates itself positively in Oromo communities around the world.
The fact of the matter is that paltalk rooms are mushrooming around the world in the same way that facsimile transmissions, computers, long distance telephone calls, satellite phones, and electronic mail spread towards the end of the 20th century – now it is hard to remember how we ever managed without them. The question for us now is how we can make it beneficial to promote our just cause of liberation.
In conclusion, technological advances are opening up new possibilities for mass mobilization at grass roots level for a growing number of social problems. For instance, human rights and other social movements are exploring cost-effective ways to employ this new approach to benefit their campaigns. Overall, it is encouraging to see our struggle is arming itself with modern technology. But, it must be said in a controlled environment paltalk-aided mass movement can be beneficial. Nevertheless, whether it can revolutionize our quest for independence or it is just the flavour of the month remains to be seen in the fullest of time. Be it (organizing Oromos in the diaspora in Gada grades) a revolution or a bubble waiting to burst the roadmap needs to be worked out, lest it becomes out of hand.
Have your say.