Thursday, February 3, 2011
Power To The People: Social Media On The Front Lines in Egypt
What started out as a 140 character ego fest has once again proven itself in the battlefield. Literally.
This last week we all watched as the uprising, the REVOLUTION, started by the people of Egypt reached a fever pitch in violence. And on the front lines of this planets latest battle for change and independence stands, Twitter and smart-phones as they chronicled the atrocities that scared “little big men” don’t wish for us to see. Remember that it was just 18 months ago that the same technologies were hailed as a factor in Iran’s Green Revolution as the streets stirred in protests that followed the disputed presidents election.
By cutting off Egypt’s internet and wireless capabilities last week in the wake of massive protests, President Mubarak’s greatest fears came to fruition. The social networking empire he tried to bring down backfired on him in epic proportions. His people and opponents became empowered and found ways to reach out to the world, exposing his failings that would topple his regime, through Facebook, Twitter and the big bad Social Media.
By most accounts, the new armory of social networking helped hasten Tunisia’s revolution, driving the country’s ruler of 23 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, into exile and igniting a blaze that has spread across the Arab world at breathtaking speed.
It was an apt symbol that dissident blogger, Slim Amamou with thousands of followers on Twitter, catapulted from the interrogation chambers of Mr. Ben Ali’s regime to a new government post as minister for youth and sports in just a matter of days. It was a marker of the uncertainty in Tunis that by Thursday, he’d stepped down from his position.
Tunisia’s uprising offers the hottest encouragement for a reassuring idea: that the same Web tools so many of us Americans use to keep tabs on college pals and post momentary thoughts have a more noble role as well, a thorn in the side of tyranny. John Lennon’s ‘Power to the People”, has been coursing through my mind ever since.
There are times that I ask myself, why am I on Twitter? Why do I care about what others have to post on Facebook? Why are we all wasting our time in the lackluster tactile world of internet social media? Then, something like this reminds me why I’m here. Why we are all here. Because in some way we all make a little difference in the landscape of mankind.
From Lauren Lankford and Nate St. Pierre, who encourage others to lift up those downtrodden through Itstartswith.Us and dropalovebomb.com, the Twitterthons we hold to raise dollars for organizations such as Strength.org or @JEFFin140 on Twitter's #USguys selling ad space with tattoos on his body to raise money for a new house for his mom, to the stories that make the news like Egypt, Iraq and Somalia’s struggle for independence, one thing is clear. Social media has given POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
I begin to wonder if someone like John Lennon who was not afraid to take a stand for something he believed in were HERE TODAY, would he have a Facebook page, Twitter account or blog about the feelings and issues he and others are passionate about? I would have to say, Probably. Could you just IMAGINE that?
Power to the People. Power to the People, right on!