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Patriotism is contagious

August 13, 2011

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Photo by Talal Masood.

To what sounds like an environmental campaign, Go Green Pakistan is rather a movement that aims to instigate a different kind of environ‘mental’ change, the one which has to do with mindsets. Early August in 2009, Farhan Massod came up with the idea of sporting a green display picture (DP) on facebook; asking his friends to join in.

The catch was to show pride in Pakistan and loudly display that pride on one’s DP. Farhan wanted to initiate a feel-good factor about Pakistan in his circle. He started something that doesn’t seem to stop anymore. As his friend list which wanted to Go Green kept growing, one of his friends on that list envisioned, beyond what Farhan had initially imagined, a national level campaign in which not just friend circles but just about everyone in Pakistan and beyond could Go Green. As Talal Masood (who is not his brother) joined in, a tiny wish started to take shape into a humongous dream, called Go Green Pakistan.

Within less than 14 days, there were more than 10,000 Pakistanis who encrypted their display pictures and avatars on twitter, facebook and other popular social networks. Word spread and oversees Pakistanis coupled in. According to Farhan, more than 150,000 Pakistanis have endorsed to this positive image of Pakistan on their displays so far. With Independence Day coming up, there are new requests coming in every day.

What inspired Go Green was actually the deep rooted negativity and hopelessness found so vividly in conversations and attitudes of Pakistanis. The country’s situation amidst terrorism and violence worsens these downbeat sentiments. This urgency and its resultant frustration fueled the idea behind Go Green. Farhan says, “The concept is to bring patriotism back in the people, to unite their roots and keep the hope alive – which is the driving force for any successful nation."

Cynics would however ask, whether this campaign has really made an impact or is it just one of those bandwagon-ideas many Pakistanis are known to mindlessly join. If testimonials are helpful, Farhan Masood received an e-mail from a Pakistani: “All my life I never felt any love for Pakistan. Your Go Green campaign has made me feel for the first time that deep down I love my country and that feeling is now just making me crazy”. Its messages like these that have kept Go Green inspired and motivated. Many people said they joined simply because they saw “Unity and emotion”. Touching a soul, is the closest you can get to impact and the importance and necessity of this campaign lies in it’s emotional contact.

Go Green Pakistan is no longer managed by its founders only, as there are scores of bloggers, writers, social media junkies and other patriots who have joined the team. In an effort to spread the Green Disease, this team of supporters and patriots keep the campaign alive. Most of the labour obviously goes into attending to the requests people send to get their DPs designed. After the request is received, whoever from the team is online tending to those requests, Photoshops the image submitted and emails the Green version back. There is also a tutorial on making the Green DP yourself.

What we are reminded by the Go Green Campaign is the fact that a little positive effort can still bring a massive and growing change. The ripple effect theory doesn’t fail in Pakistan. And most of all, it teaches us how patriotism really can be contagious.

Kiran Nazish is a freelance journalist and an interactive reporter.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.