On February 20th and 21st we met the first ambassadors of change: these are young people who will organize and implement their own radicalization campaigns in the next 3 weeks.
After a long period of social isolation, working in front of the computer and communicating mainly through social networks, it has become clear how dangerous the consequences of this lifestyle can be. Our critical thinking is also changing, and the social bubble which surround us could distort our perceptions to such a dangerous extent that they could turn us into beings who are easy to manipulate.
The two days were not at all enough for us to analyze what has been happening in the last year. We spoke about social media and how they affect people, and about the differences between radicalization, polarization and activism in the context of the current situation in Bulgaria. We discussed the root causes and factors which motivate people to act, and we talked about the tendency of our minds to make sense of and look for simple explanations of the complex dynamics of reality. In the hands of certain people manipulation and propaganda have already reached professional levels. We have prime examples from Bulgaria, USA, Italy, Hungary etc.
The good news, however, is that if we look for information, double-check it and take a critical approach to the particular content, we can be active without assuming extremist and radical attitudes. It is wrong to believe that a person with an extreme opinion must necessarily become a terrorist, and that such behavior is typical or is fueled only by religious motives. By taking part in a two-day training program, a group of young people were introduced to tools that would help them recognize such behavior, as well as plan campaigns themselves in order to change attitudes and stereotypes regarding behavior.
We are looking forward to seeing the reactions of our first ambassadors in the upcoming weeks: our Ambassadors of Change, as we will call them from now on. These are young people who have the energy and potential to dismantle old ways of thinking and shake up the “pillars” in the already established group consciousness.
The Youth Changer Camp takes place thanks to the support of the TechSoup Foundation with their Game Changer project.
Open Space Foundation is one of the teams in Europe which has been selected to conduct pilot trainings and games on this the topic in Bulgaria.
Follow us here and on social media to find out what’s going on with our Ambassadors of Change. And this week the games will start. You can learn more about them and how to get involved – here.