An open letter to Barack Obama

Final State of the Union speech 2016

Dear Mr.POTUS,
Let me just start of by saying you have been an inspiration, not just to your nation but outside of it too.

Your constant endeavors to promote the notion, if nothing else, of peace and the fight for equality has me hanging my head in shame. Shame that I didn’t support you when you first ran in 2009. 
Let’s just say I was an economics nerd who truly thought the super nation that the Dirham (I have lived in Dubai for the better part of my life) is pegged to needed republican fiscal theories, but I digress.

As you have probably guessed, I’m writing to you in lieu of your final State of the Union speech.

You asked a question I feel like I might want to answer. Notice how I say want not can, Mr.President, I have no doubt that your great nation has many educated citizens ready to jump at answering your proposed question. I feel like I might be able to shed some light seeing as how I’ve spent half a decade specializing in the field of social media.

“How do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?”

You asked this very thoughtful question, I can only assume, hoping the young minds of America would answer it. If not now with pondered rhetoric than with action in the near future.

I do apologize if I’ve disappointed you. I’m a Singaporean, born and bred. However, I’ll take a shot at answering the question anyway if that’s okay with you.

Technology is at the forefront of everything we do in this day and age, where I live and definitely where you live. The difference is that the United States breeds tech innovation. San Francisco has come to be known as one of the smartest cities in the world. The tech capital also within it, our beloved Silicon Valley.

Social Media is not just a means to an end anymore. It is not the tool by which movements are marketed. It is the movement. You remember how you used it, with Plouffe’s strategic perfection to reach out to a generation that would soon be coined as millennials? I remember. It’s what made me want to get into this industry: seeing David Plouffe talk at the World Economic Forum in Dubai all those years ago about the untapped audience potential; And especially about the tool that helped champion the campaign and reach that audience.

So to answer your question on how we should make technology work for us and not against us for urgent challenges like climate change, social media can do it.

However, in retrospect, your audience didn’t seem quite so cynical, did they? But let’s take a second to think about how you did it. By which I mean how you convinced a bunch of millennials at the time with no interest in voting or politics (at least the vast majority of them), not just to vote in the first place, but to vote for you.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room, shall we? One, you’re a man of color. I do believe that brought a one-of-a-kind empathy that nobody else could have dragged to the poker table.

Two, you convinced them that you would give them the one thing they wanted, oh so, badly. Change. You did not promise to make a change yourself by throwing money at the problem and hoping it goes away like some of your distasteful predecessors and potential successors. No, you used your voice to ask for their help. You claimed to want to join forces with them and make a change together. You, sir, empowered them. That’s what you did.

You see where I’m going with this right, mr.President? I think we’ve half answered your question already.

Technology is so powerful that it has fared war, heartbreak, everlasting love, crime and more. So why not harness that power? Why not empower a different group of youths, maybe a tad more cynical, but since when have you shied away from a challenge?

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, Foursquare, Snapchat even (which the White House joined shocking millions and I) are the leading pioneers of yesterday and tomorrow’s movements. Why not use that?

How many days do you have left as President? That’s not rhetorical. It’s a genuine question. Get behind a camera and go the extra mile one last time. Show your successor how you didn’t just get with the times, you manipulated the age of information like magic at the tip of your fingers to empower teenagers who never wanted to leave their phone screens and laptops. How you reached out to them there instead.

You wanted a change right, Mr.Obama? Here’s your chance. Climate Change can be fought. With your help, anything can.

Yours Sincerely,

A curious non-citizen (Shyaire Ganglani)

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