Revolutions have occurred every century since the dawn of mankind and it’s ability to understand the ability of power and politics. Our ideals for society and our willingness to address issues that require change has formulated our desire to be the forces of change. The most prominent revolution of recent years was the Arab Spring; a change that rode the traditions of revolutions yet harnessed the new-found powers of digital technologies and social media.
Firstly, connectivity is power. The more that are connected, the more powerful a message and it’s attractiveness becomes. As explored in the weeks Prezi, the internet and today’s social media platforms are a realm of political debate and passion. Trending, Hashtags and prominent statues all give way for a message to be shared and heard. Social media platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, allow for mass involvement and fast mobilization, which are key for today’s revolutionaries, especially with the faster response times of authoritarian forces. The Arab Spring was able to cultivate these new-found methods, which were key in helping assist their eventual “success” (vary on opinion of it’s aftermath.)
I won’t go into the history and finite details of the Arab Spring, for this post will briefly look at the role social media played in this historical event. It is quite interesting to consider that centralized, authoritarian dictatorships were brought down by the centralized yet people-power styles of Facebook.
During the 2011 Tunisian revolution, Facebook was the main organisation tool used by protesters, for it’s easy to use ability for organizing and conversing with fellow protesters. The Tunisian government weren’t stupid however, as they responded swiftly by web-blocking and deleting Facebook profiles and groups. However, just a month into the protests, President Bel Ali flees to Saudi Arabia, without little to no bloodshed.
Yemen however, is a different story.
Whilst initially protests were civil and led to arrests, the security and stability in the nation has dropped considerably, with 420 people having been killed by May 2015 and a growing presence of ISIS/Al Qaeda within the nation. Yemen sadly hasn’t had the full-blown power of social media due to the low levels of access and high levels of disenfranchisement within it’s society.
During the Arab Spring, the use of memes for political purposes spread, and below is an example of it’s usage in Egypt and Syria during the Arab Spring. As we can see, Egypt had large amounts of decentralised sources and chatter, whilst Syria, largely due to the government maintaining more control, had significantly less and more centralised styles.
Thus, as a new generation awakens with the newfound freedoms of digital media, the question continues as to where the Middle East will be from now. We still see violence in Syria and Yemen, and instability in Egypt, but with such a turbulent region like the Middle East, these things will take time.
Stay Classy UOW,
Mitew, T., 2014, ‘#mena #arabspring the social network revolutions’, Lecture /Prezi Slide, DIGC202, University of Wollongong, 22 September 2014, https://prezi.com/ikufthacaunr/mena-arabspring-the-social-network-revolutions/
Clement, R 2013, ‘From code to memes: how the web is rewiring space’, SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/clemsos/renaud-clement-antitectonics