The first day of class we were asked why we enrolled into Digital Activism. I said I wanted to learn more about this subject and how its fits into the Middle East. Last week I could have just given a generic and vague answer like, “well, its activism through the digital environment to help bring about some social justice”. While that can be seen as right, I haven’t really learned why it is right. Why are heading towards digital activism? Who’s responsible for this strategy around Egypt or Turkey and other countries and in what specific ways are they trying to change politics and society? I’m sure I’ve missed some other important questions but what I am trying to say is that after reading these two weekly articles, I could at least explain these issues in laymen’s terms and even toss in some impressive definitions I didn’t know before like “sousveillance”.
Digital activism through social media networks like Twitter and Facebook are so important because they are convienent and cheap. Most importantly, however, you are able to connect with thousands of people who you can “trust”. Your account is usually filled with just friends who more often than not share the same opinions as you do. This then expands to their friends who you might not know personally but by seeing similar online groups you are both a part of connections are formed and groups get bigger and bigger. The growing numbers in Facebook scares these authoritative governments tracking them hoping to stay one step ahead. Except that almost impossible for governments to do with social media. In just a few seconds, plans could change dramatically leaving the government out of the loop.
If everyone has done the reading I really do not have to tell you all the ways social media has worked or how it began. What interests me now is how much it can change society. Maybe you tweet a criticism at a politician and you put your phone back in your pocket. But maybe it just keeps getting likes and retweets and others keep adding to the criticism. Maybe now your tweet has led to hundred or even thousand more on why exactly this politician is so corrupt and now people are demanding for his resignation and protests will soon follow. Maybe it isn’t so cut and dry like that but the point is with any device connected to wifi which you can find cheaply like Khaled Said, you can start a movement and that might bring some actual and serious change. All with a smartphone and a Twitter account. You might not see some change to policy but you might see some of these nondemocratic governments react accordingly and have them walking on egg shells hoping not to start a revolution.