In this post, I am going to reflect on my one-month experience as a participant in the Soliya program. This shall be done through 1-illustrating the way in which I believe soliya is different from the other communication platforms that I am enrolled in; 2- Showing what I have learned about myself in digital communication; 3- Suggesting what I think would improve face to face and online communication modes.
To begin with, I believe that Soliya can be distinguished from other online platforms I use in many ways. For instance, in other platforms such as facebook or twitter, the user chooses whom to add, follow, and receive feed and messages from. Soliya on the other hand assigns users randomly with people from different places around the globe with different perspectives. In addition, Soliya provides higher security standards to its users than other platforms. The presence of a facilitator regulates the conversation and ensures that everything is in the right order, prevents cyberbullying and encourages participants to share their beliefs honestly. Also in Soliya, the participants cannot easily reach each other without approval. I remember in the last session when the facilitator asked us if we are comfortable to share our emails with each other. Hence, it is safe to say that discussions over soliya are safer than social media platforms.
Another point to be discussed is what I have learned about myself during the experience. Participating in Soliya have pointed out my ability to listen and emphasize with people that have different perspectives and ideas .I found myself able to understand people’s different backgrounds and the reason behind their opinion in certain topics, even when I had totally opposite opinions. Moreover, encountering such a wide spectrum of opinions gave me extra insight about different topics, which helped me contribute more to the discussions. I was glad to find many of the participants convinced and appreciative of my opinion about some topics, especially the ones I had to represent the image of Egypt or the Middle East in general.
Finally, I would like to share my suggestions to foster face-to-face and online communication modes. I believe that there are common values that should be encouraged in all channels of communication no matter what they are. These values include giving full attention, listening carefully to what the different sides have to share, and then responding with ultimate respect.
Other values to be encouraged are diversity and honesty. Only when different sides are able to share their minds openly regardless of their differences will a conversation be rich and deep enough to reach a resolution.
For improving online communication modes, I believe that soliya is applying a good strategy when it comes to asking for approval in order to share personal information. However, I find obligating users to have their cameras on unnecessary.