Right place, right time

I’m grateful for the second article more than the first, because it allowed me to understand the history of these civil “social media” revolts in Egypt and gave context to the We Are All Khaled Said movement. I find it interesting that the unfolding of the successive revolts in Tunisia and then Egypt seems to mirror the growth of the We Are All Khaled Said movement itself. The first authors, Ali and El-Sharnouby made a very explicit argument that Khalid Said himself was no one particularly special or suited to martyrdom. The crux of their argument is that it was the combination of advantageous factors (eg. the picture of Khaled’s disfigured face, his witnesses’ willingness to come forward, his outwardly clean-cut appearance, and the oppressed youth his age represented) that allowed the We are All Khalid Said movement to form, many of which were either superficial (lack of wide knowledge about his involvement in drugs) and artificial (the airbrushed passport photo used on the movement’s Facebook page). It seems that Ali and El-Sharnouby wanted to imply that Khaled’s fame was due to him being the right victim at the right time and the movement’s leaders pressing his martyrdom to their advantage and even extending it.

Likewise, the ultimate “social media” revolution that overthrew Mubarak seems to have formed under these conditions of being both fortunately timed and artificially augmented. in the second article, the second author, Faris mentions how the Tunisian peoples’ revolt that overthrew their dictator, Zine el-Abadine Ben Ali, acted as a catalyst for the April 6th movement which then acted as a catalyst for We Are All Khaled Said which eventually led to revolution and the ousting and imprisonment of Mubarak. These three revolutions in Egypt and one in Tunisia weren’t the only civil rights protests ever created in their countries so why were they the ones chosen to be the ones that go down in history as overthrowing a government? It is a case of being the right revolts at the right time. There was noting particularly special about them – at first, they obviously became huge political events later – but the momentum they created coupled with the growing power of the internet created, as Faris argued, informational cascades (and I would argue moral or courage cascades as well) that allowed the energy of each revolt to feed into the next, much like how the crimes against every Egyptian citizen’s own acquaintances fueled into one person: Khaled Said. These movements were then of course seen early on in their creation, by professional activists and were artificially fed and stoked to become what they’re now remembered as. Artificiality in this case does not mean that these administrators spread lies to bolster the movements, but rather that they used their influence and the internet to spread these movements farther than the information had ever previously been disseminated.

I’m no sociologist, but it makes me wonder if the internet and mass communication have really upended the fabrics of human behavior and coincidence, and whether the future of our communication is something we’ll even be able to comprehend.

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2 thoughts on “Right place, right time

  1. I think it is extremely interesting on how powerful the use of social media is. Over 8 years ago, I personally didn’t think about how something like Facebook would start a movement like We are all Khaled Said. I think it’s really interesting that you brought up the question of whether human behaviors will be changed through intense social media usage as I think that social media plays a role in effecting someone’s understandings and beliefs.

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  2. I am studying sociology and I found your post to be very interesting. I think that the internet and mass communication have definitely upended the fabrics of human behavior and coincidence. I believe that eventually our communication will be limited to social media and that is all we will know. I think that these social activists in countries, such as Egypt, use the internet to spread their opinions and their movements. I am also curious why those three revolutions went down in history, particularly because there was nothing special about them.

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