June 30, 2012 in Nation/World

Walesa imagines social media in ’80s

Monika Scislowska Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Former Polish President Lech Walesa holds his tablet as he speaks in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

WARSAW, Poland – Lech Walesa is a big fan of social media – and says if he had it back when he founded the Solidarity rights movement in 1980, he wouldn’t have had to keep meeting opposition colleagues in stadiums.

Honored with a 1983 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in peacefully ending communism in Poland, Walesa said he often discussed strategy with other activists while playing soccer or watching other sports to thwart Communist security agents determined to stop such meetings.

“In those days, there were no possibilities of communicating on a larger scale, there were no mobile phones,” Walesa told the Associated Press in an interview Friday. “It was inconvenient for them (agents) to make arrests in a pitch (or) disturb a sports event, so we used such opportunities to agree on things.”

Walesa served as democratic Poland’s first popularly elected president from 1990-95. Now he travels the globe lecturing on having led a peaceful transition from communism to democracy, which Poles voted for in 1989.

The 68-year-old said his Samsung tablet and other Internet communications today help him work “faster, better, wiser.”

He said he uses a tablet because it is the “wisest thing ever invented.”

“A small appliance that I can put in my pocket and use in my lectures. I have texts, old and new,” Walesa said. “It helps me.”

But he warned that social media should be used in a responsible way, because it has the potential of spreading false information.

“The danger is that … we have the rights, but we have no responsibility,” Walesa said. “We need to react sometimes (to published content) to prevent people from being given a bad name or to stop insane ideas.”

Walesa does not tweet but has his own Facebook account that he contributes to.

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