by Charlene Muhammad
Though diversely attended by various ages, the Nation’s youth primarily filled the Social Networking: A Spider’s Web workshop held on February 26 during the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.
The workshop was coordinated by Final Call Staff Writer, award-winning blogger, and motivational speaker Jesse Muhammad. The workshop’s title was inspired by a lecture given by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan titled “The Spider’s Web.” He said what people do online that they may think is safe and sound can actually get them in trouble. “We intend to unravel that web today,” Bro. Jesse said.
Workshop panelists were Ebony Muhammad, publisher of Hurt 2 Healing Magazine, an on-line magazine, Audrey Muhammad, publisher of Virtue Today Magazine, Cedric Muhammad, author, economist, writer and creator of blackelectorate.com, Troy X, videographer, Tony Muhammad, founder of the Hip Hop Educator website, and entrepreneur and blogger Salih Muhammad.
Their purpose in part was to provide valuable information on how to maneuver the world wide web and social media.
According to Bro. Cedric, it is important for people to marry online networking with their offline lives because it’s not just about the exchange of information and dates, but it’s about relationships, too. The Internet can place people shoulder to shoulder without them ever meeting but in the modern era, unfortunately, there are limitations, he said.
One way to strengthening offline connections is to build relationships, said Sis. Audrey. And Sis. Ebony offered that a great way to do that is by attending community events. That helps to build the images of online ventures, she said.
Early in the workshop, the panelists addressed the social site Facebook and how though it’s useful, much of it is counter to what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam represents.
It is important to remember that what NOI users of the site, whether they post pictures, statements - or statuses - it all reflects on them personally and particularly on Min. Farrakhan and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Bro. Tony said that the visuals and conversations must be weighed carefully before posting to avoid the spider’s web.
But there is a challenge to keeping a consistent positive image on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs and the one that he tries to portray is being a representative of the NOI and Min. Farrakhan, Bro. Salih said.
“We have to make it plain that what we represent is opposite of what this world represents....especially we the youth,” Bro. Salih added.
A good thing about online social networking is that it gives youth within the NOI an opportunity to help organize within their mosques and study groups by connecting with youth from across the Nation, particularly those that identify with the teachings on their sites.
In an interactive portion of the workshop, Bro. Jesse had everyone take out their cell phones and asked who had sent a text or posted a Facebook status since they had been in session. After several attendees raised their hands, he jokingly promised to get all of them enrolled into rehab for the inability to pay attention due to the technology.
Bro. Troy does more than upload videos of Min. Farrakhan on You Tube. He chats and engages the public about the teachings and heavily defends Min. Farrakhan and the NOI, Bro. Jesse said during his introduction.
He said he was actually against having the videos on You Tube because he thought it would hurt the sales of The Final Call. When he started in 2008, traffic to the site was slow, but by the second the year, viewers picked up, and he spotted them on other sites, from Ethiopia, Jamaica, and even as far away as Asia.
“I’m sitting at home and uploading these videos and you don’t know how much of an affect you have on people,” Bro. Troy said.
“This workshop wasn’t going to be about teaching people how to open up a Facebook account but about branding ideas and becoming successful on line,” Bro. Jesse said.
Before getting started, his wife Shareefah presented the first 50 attendees with a video titled “Long Live the Spirit (of the Million Man March).” The special gift came courtesy of filmmaker Glen Towery and it documents his journey to the historic 1995 Million Man March.