THE CHALLENGE OF INFORMING A GENERATION IN THE INFORMATION ERA

Three MagzUrith Toa is the Marketing and Communications Officer of The Voice Inc. In this article she shares with us the challenges of her job in managing our social media and the heart behind creating our Clean Gen Tok Magazine!

 

In my day job, I do several things and one of those things, just happens to be producing a magazine called “Clean Gen Tok”, for the young people who are part of our Clean Generation Campaign. My work on this project is part of my little contribution to seeing the vision of my organization outworked.

I have been working on the next issue for a couple of months but have been swamped by other priorities. As I put the magazine together, I realized I had created an average product because it didn’t have my full attention. I needed to give it more, make the content appealing and provide more relevant information. I believe also that it was God’s timing, that I hadn’t rushed and published a halfhearted magazine. You see, the aim of the magazine is to bring to light many of the challenges our youths face and to start solution driven conversations. The aim is to inform our young people about issues but in a fun and colourful way, it is also to show them positive role models that carry the values that we try to promote through the Clean Generation. I say all this and I admit, it is quite a task, but worth every picture, every word, every minute, if it switches on a light bulb in the minds of this rising generation and inspires action.

With it being the so called “information era”, it seems that the type of information our population turns to is either poor or lacking  in substance.  Only unless you are curious enough to look deeper will you stop seeing and skimming the surface and face value and see the underlying issues and start actively participating in change through the smallest of actions.  Even the educated can be ignorant. To have information is one thing, acting upon it is what makes the difference.

I have to admit, I was once quite ignorant. I’m about to enter another decade of my life and I have had the opportunity to go to private schools which were amazing, but as I got into working with the young people and their challenges, and especially that of our national identity and knowing the history of my nation, I realized I was unaware and quite frankly oblivious to basic things every young Papua New Guinean should know of. Now, I am not saying that this is the result of going to such schools, it’s just I learnt little about my own country, Papua New Guinea. I blame myself as well, for not being curious enough to learn more in my free time. It wasn’t until I was forced to memorize the National Pledge when I went to Port Moresby Grammar in Grade 11, that I realized we had a pledge! Then again, some people grow up saying that pledge at every assembly in both primary and high school but they will still not understand or delve deeper into why, how and what its all about.

So why did I talk about the above? Well because the challenge not only lies with providing the right information and making it appealing to the audience, it’s also about the level of interest, curiosity that this generation has. In less than ten yeas, the internet has been flooded with social media platforms and eased the access to porn and everything else that can’t be healthy for a young person’s mind. Children from the 90’s and in the new millennium have the challenge of having TOO MANY choices. A phone can be used to hop on the net and Google stuff for school, or it can also be used to hit up Facebook and watch the lives of everyone else, whilst also trying to amplify your own. This may sound a bit extreme, when written like this, but the truth of the matter is that, it’s very real and something many of us indulge in without realizing.

I also oversee our social media platforms and I can’t even begin to say how hard it is to get likes for a post on positivity or values, without having to pay Facebook to get people to see the post! Yet on pages about gossip and meaningless chatter, ‘likes’ go through the roof. It amazes me that some of these pages have as many likes as they do, yet sadly to me it also spells out the superficial minded thinking that exists. Yet information isn’t restricted to the internet it’s also in terms of news, print media, radio and so on. The newspaper is here to deliver the stories and the facts, sadly though a lot of times there are biased reports and poor literacy.  As for radio, the low quality of content on popular stations that rule the airwaves, not only feeds superficial and poor moral living, but reflects how challenging it is for people to understand that each person, each radio station, each TV show, everyone has a platform at home or on media to influence and inform people about what is right and what is good. You have the power to inform and influence others  in every sphere that you’re in, from your home to your school or work place.

I will reiterate what many of the writers in this issue of our magazine state, which is there needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking and it needs to start with the upcoming generation. The right values need to be modeled and promoted. If young people realised and looked closely, they’d see that embedded in our Constitution and the National Goals and Directive Principles themselves, lie those values that had once been the essence of the PNG way. However, substance and wisdom can only come from God, so I say all this but I trust that the message and information we are trying to get out through our magazine will make its impact, and spur the curiosity of our young Papua New Guineans to be informed about what will keep their cities and villages safe, creating better opportunities for their children and step away from a self serving mindset.

We may be in an era where we think there’s an information overload, but your inquisitiveness and values will help discern what is right from wrong. This youth magazine is just one small tool that is being used to help young people navigate their way, learning and in turn making more informed and responsible choices for their lives. A challenge is not a challenge, unless it changes you and it is my belief that that what we share will challenge a young person’s mind and begin or continue the positive change. As a mentor once said to me, “Young people are not empty containers to be filled with information. They are candles to be lit.“ It is my prayer that many candles of hope, passion and curiosity are lit as they turn the pages of the Clean Generation Tok.

By Urith Toa, Marketing Officer for The Voice Inc.

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