Conflict Resolution in the Digital Age

Technology in this digital age no doubt allows people a wider range of connectivity. But social overuse and sharing can sometimes erode meaningful relationships. How do we use all this new technology for good, resolving conflicts instead of starting them? Peace builders are beginning to use digital media tools to cut through the hate at the local level and foster positive contact between conflict groups. This is just one way is allowing us to overturn assumptions and bring people together. Peace builders are carrying the flag of peace and hoping it goes viral.

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Understanding the Problem

Conflicts grow from a complex set of socio-economic, historical and cultural drivers. Technology provides peace builders with new tools to understand and address some of these causes. Collected information allows researchers to use infographics and simulations to better understand relationship dynamics between groups.

New technology and big data provide a new way to collect and analyze large amounts of data. Organizations can interact with data in a way never before possible. People can engage with the sources collecting data making it easier to make sense of incomplete or low-quality data.

Increased Reach

Overcoming established social boundaries has historically been a challenge. The increased reach and impact technologies allow help peace builders surmount these well-built walls. Social media has played a big role in helping initiate contact. Digital games can even provide a means of re-imagining a future where conflict parties exist in peace.

Peace builders are using tools such as blogs, social media, citizen journals, wikis and participatory maps to bring new voices to the public domain. Organizations create contests encouraging youth to post videos of their identity, opening the door for young people to showcase their diverse experiences and see other’s experiences in the guise of competition. Facebook groups encourage people to post pictures and messages of love and friendship across conflict barriers.

Prevention

Technology allows a new take on conflict resolution. Understanding the root of conflict and the relationships between conflicting parties, precision-targeted technological tools can be designed to positively influence group relationships.  Peace builders are using the same tools used to incite violence to instead mobilize a collective expression of peace and positivity.

Technology enables peacebuilding institutions to monitor events. Public and private sector groups have access to real-time data. Progress can unravel in a matter of weeks when conflict breaks out. Having the ability to prevent conflict before it escalates is invaluable. Communications technology permit peacebuilding groups and organization to spot trends in conflict rife areas. This helps astronomically in the prevention of violence.

Technology can be dangerous in the hands of violent groups, but it can also be harnessed for good. Technology designers are teaming up with peace builders to counteract violence and hate. Many groups and organizations are harnessing technology and internet-based communication to get to the heart of a problem and promote peace. Social media campaigns help conflict parties appreciate the lives and experiences of their rivals. It has a net humanizing effect. Social boundaries are being chipped away brick by brick using tools to collect data and better understand different groups of people.

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