#MyNameIs. People as individuals – in social media, too.

Prolonged conflicts and the increasing numbers of refugees resulting from them have become visible this year in an unprecedented way, even in Finland. The situation reflects the severity of many conflicts also in regions where Finn Church Aid is currently working for a better next year.

The asylum seekers that have arrived over the past months have caused confusion and wide discussion, particularly on social media. There has been a lot of talk about who these people are and why they are coming. This new situation has also incited fear and raised concerns over our own safety. However, it is important to remember that what unites us and the men, women and children who have been forced to abandon their homes because of war is the very human need for security.

Asylum seekers have been grouped together in the media and on discussion forums into a single, collective group. Comments have been especially harsh when the misconduct or suspected criminal acts of individuals have been featured publically. This discourse has been characterised by identifying asylum seekers as a group as the culprits. Generalisations, which in their most severe form manifest as hate-speech, are dangerous.

In 2015, we, in Finland, are also faced with a new type of phenomenon where juxtaposition and anger aren’t expressed only under aliases on internet discussion forums and social media. Petrol bomb attack against refugee accommodation centres and threats towards accommodation centre employees and volunteers represent a Finland and Finnish behaviour that is completely strange to me. I believe that many Finns find it difficult to identify with these acts of hate and violence, and hope that they too can be seen as individuals, separated of these terrible acts.

The year 2015 has been a difficult one. The new year gives us the change to think about what kind of a world do each of us want to be building in 2016. Are we going to surrender to nameless hatred and fear, or are we going to turn our backs to that fear and face each other as equals, humans with individual names and stories. We challenge everyone to participate in the #MyNameIs campaign and meet people as individuals on social media by telling something about themselves and getting to know others. Happy New Year!

Jouni Hemberg, Finn Church Aid Executive Director

#MyNameIs is a social media campaign created by Finn Church Aid (FCA) that encourages all of us, asylum seekers and Finns, to introduce ourselves in one tweet or posting. The campaign starts on 29 December on Twitter and Facebook.

Join on Twitter:

1. Write your tweet in English or Finnish.
2. Start your tweet with the hashtag #MyNameIs.
3. Write your first name.
4. Describe yourself shortly with a few words (your profession, family relations/role, adjective etc.).
5. Attach a picture of you or something that is important to you.

Join on Facebook:

1. Join the #MyNameIs Facebook event
2. Write in English or Finnish.
3. Start your posting with the hashtag #MyNameIs.
4. Write your first name.
5. Describe yourself shortly (your profession, family relations/role, adjective etc.).
6. Attach a picture of you or something that is important to you.