“I don’t think social media is tomorrow. I think social media is yesterday.” These prominent words seemed to stealthily creep through the stage, to strike everyone speechless, and remain there for a while before melting into thin air. Octavia Nasr, said these words, filling the Gulbenkian stage at LAU with her enthusiasm, her positive view of the world, and her vivacity that originated from her offline and online interaction.

She started her lecture by pointing out the fact she prefers not to talk about the past especially about what happened in the summer (the CNN-tweet dilemma) because “everything that can be said was said”, as she puts it. She stressed that people who would show up in public places and ask her questions about such issues shows signs of what she called “lazy journalism”.

She moved then to talk about social media and tackled two essential questions “How did social media affect our lives? What is the relationship that exists or should exist between traditional media and new media?” She made the point that the level of reach one can get through social media is unpredictable. Diverting her sight to where LAUsocial students were sitting who were live covering the lecture (You can check their live coverage of Nasr’s lecture by clicking on this: http://www.lausocial.com/Live.html ), Nasr said that #LAUsocial students were lucky to study social media while in university. “I know that social media is going somewhere and I want to be in the driver’s seat. I want to set the agenda.” Nasr said enthusiastically.

Octavia Nasr between traditional media (represented by photographers) and new media (represented by #LAUsocial)

Moving to speaking about traditional media’s views of social media, she said that she would like to “tell traditional media how wrong they’re in being afraid from new media. I want to tell them how they are wrong in treating social media as traditional media because it’s not traditional media and it’s anything but traditional media.” She explains further that her mission in life today through her Bridges Media (http://blog.octavianasr.com/2010/10/octavia-nasr-launches-bridges-media.html) is to bridge the gap between what traditional and new media.

Octavia Nasr joined twitter in 2008 and wasn’t active until 2009 and in the process she thought that she would like to meet ordinary citizens. She wanted to hear about something new rather than the recycled talk of the politicians and journalists. She searched through the region for those people and organizations that were on twitter and were active. She monitored them for a while before she made the decision to follow them. “In social media, you really have to be yourself if you want people to listen to you.” On twitter, people are smart, Nasr stated. Most of them aren’t passive about what’s diffused to them from media outlets. They are “La Crème de la crème”, as Nasr puts it, except that their voices are not heard according to Nasr.

To highlight the potency of social media in delivering factual material and allowing citizens’ voices to be heard, she gave an example of a report she made using social media tools. She tweeted the following: “Are you Arab? Will you be monitoring Obama’s trip to the Middle East? “and so on… and provided her email address. Some retweeted and others replied directly or via email. She ended up live tweeting as Obama was speaking in Cairo and they came out with a hashtag before hashtags were popular at that time. Also she ended up doing a report from a purely social media perspective. It was a test, but the result was amazing, as Nasr puts it.

The way she thinks, the positive outlook she has towards what happens to her, her ambitious view towards making a change in the world, her humorous and witty way to criticize the traditional media whether in Lebanon or outside Lebanon, and her diligent communication offline and online made me appreciate that a person like Octavia Nasr exists among us.  

You can check a video  I took at the lecture: http://youtu.be/6Li-fNjDnhQ?a