The world has been looking closely at the Arab world, especially in the past couple of weeks, and for a change, this time it’s got nothing to do with the US! The land of the Pharaohs is witnessing, what can be described as the biggest and most determined mass uprising of the 21st century. And to think, that this revolution was kindled by the generation next of Egypt, through the new age digital medium, more specifically the social media.
Of course, revolutions don’t happen over the internet, they’re carried out on the streets. But what the digital medium does is provide ordinary people with a platform to be heard, to communicate and mobilize their fellow countrymen. Egypt was not the first to face the wrath of this digital revolution. Kashmir had witnessed a similar mini-revolution powered by the social media last year. People of Tunisia are pledging their support for the citizens of Egypt as I write this blog, social media revolutionaries there have organized for demonstrations in Damascus this week. Mind you, Tunisians would be eager to share their expertise on this matter with their brothers from another land, since they recently managed to topple their President. Syrians have started a Facebook page named -´2011 Syrian revolt against Bashar al-Assad’ in a bid to remove their President from power. The Chinese have blocked searches for the word ‘Egypt’ on the internet, fearing similar uproar in China.
The Egyptian government has blocked internet services (an increasingly common tactic by regimes under fire) in wake of angry protests by the people, against President Hosni Mubarak. Media networks like Al-Jazeera have been banned and even text messaging services has been restricted. Despite all these efforts, millions of Egyptians flock the streets of Cairo, defying the curfew imposed by the government. Obviously, activists don’t need a Twitter or Facebook to round-up their comrades to march the streets of Egypt. Having said that, social media has forever changed the way how one fights for his right of speech. Everybody understands the prowess of main line media and they realize that all it takes is one man to begin something that could create history. Skeptics need to understand that revolutions can no longer just be fought, like the olden days. I’m sure everybody’s well versed with the saying, “A rolling stone gathers moss” , but somebody has to set the stone rolling and credit to the digital medium, you and I can potentially be that ‘somebody’.
Since the only mode of communication available to Egyptians currently is the traditional phone call, Google has come up with a service called ‘Speak to Tweet’. People can dial into an international telephone number and leave a voicemail message which would then be sent out as a tweet with the hash tag (#) Egypt. I’m sure that the Egyptians would now welcome any form of communication with immense gratitude.
It would not be right to say that social media alone can cause the downfall of unjust governments but it will definitely revolutionize the way we fight our wars. I wonder if President Obama ever thought of using the social media to mobilize the people of Iraq, to rise against Sadam Hussain! Maybe social media was not as popular back then but he could now use it to full effect against countries like China and North Korea, just a thought 🙂 Lest we forget, communication is what drives any movement and what better way than to voice yourself, than using the social media. I leave you with an interesting coverage by CBS on Egypt’s Internet Revolution. Watch Video