Social media’s rising popularity has correlated with many recent political and world events. The Internet has long been considered the biggest opportunity we’ve ever had to spread democracy, so it is no surprise that people are starting to stand up and be heard in places like the Middle East in ways that would never have been possible before the Internet- Most notably, the revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Arab Spring that began in December of 2010. Social Media has always been intended to connect people, and in poverty stricken nations, those connections may not be just an easy way to organise a party or a meetup down at the local skate park. Social Media’s contributions in the Arab Spring must not be overstated, but Social Media is an amazing tool, and without it, the protests would very likely have been extremely less organised.
As I looked to the infamous Wikipedia for a broad outline on the Arab Spring, I noticed that most of the details surrounding the Arab Spring left out the involvement of Social Media. Of course it was mentioned, at the end of the wikipedia article, but the article specifically focused on the demonstrations and protests throughout the many nations including Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, and many others.
A Google search of “Arab Spring” didn’t lead to a mention of Social Media’s Involvement in the uprising until the 4th page, so while the debate on whether or not Social Media’s involvement had been overstated is quite valid, evidence suggests that Social Media did play a big role- as use of Social Media more than doubled in Arab countries during the protests. My opinion is that the ability of Social media to contribute to the uprising was substantial enough to warrant discussion of the new era of political protests that had been ushered in thanks to Social Media’s ability to connect people. Social Media’s contributions should be embraced, not debated. Social Media provided a platform for the people participating in the riots to organise and rally other supporters.
There was also debate that support from Western Countries like the United States was mainly restricted to Social Media. People from all around the world were helping to spread the message and encourage uprising through Twitter and Facebook. And while these people didn’t leave their homes, and contributed only through a computer screen, it is hell of a lot more of a contribution that what would have occurred in the past- before the Internet and Social Media.
Why should we discredit people from all around the world that were helping spread the message even further? Even if it was from the comfort of their own homes, why should we discourage them just because they didn’t jump on a plane to participate in the uprising with the people in Egypt or Iraq? Social Media has given us the opportunity the hear about these events from the actual people who are involved, and not through the filter of a Western media. Social media has given us the opportunity to reach out to these people, to connect to these people in the only way we know how.
Social Media is the loudest voice we currently have, and it is a lot more than we have ever had before, so why discredit that when we can embrace it?
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