Originally aiming for peaceful demonstrations, the #YouStink protests turned into violent ones, resulting in riot police responding with water cannons and tear gas. The photos from the protest are hard to look at, making it hard to believe this issue would start riots – unless it is from years of anger built up against the government. Which is what happened in Lebanon: the people were not happy about the corruption in their government and how little they care about public accountability. This is reflected by them not collecting trash for a month because they never came up with a long-term plan for after the temporary landfill has filled up.
The Lebanese government needed the pressure from its people to start making change. At the time of the movement, Lebanon had been without a president for a year. Like what Paul Amar discussed about uprisings in the Arab world, its a battle between different kinds of sovereignty, and the people usually want democracy – we saw this in the movements in Egypt, even though they did not succeed. Lebanon on the other hand, has a parliamentary government system that is divided amongst religious groups and they have an electoral system. However, in the comments of Alan Taylor’s article, the common question is “wow, Lebanon has a government?” Some people are just ignorant when they ask that, but seeing #YouStink does make you question what can the people do for the government to reform and turn into a better one.
As I mentioned in class on Thursday, the fact is that social media and digital technology as a whole carries an altogether different weight in certain regions of the world. In the United States and certain parts of Europe where we can enjoy more liberties than say Egypt and other countries in the Middle East, social media and digital technology has achieved a level of trivialness to it. A large portion of media exists primarily a entertainment for the masses. In countries like Egypt, these same technologies are more of a tool to fight back against authoritarian military rule. Where we post videos of us and our friends standing still while Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles or paste the Jordan crying meme over anything we can, the digital generation of other countries post horrifying evidence to injustice. The digital generation of other countries create movements, an unofficial network, a system of resistance where it can only exist. The digital world is a safe haven in countries like Egypt. Don’t get me wrong, all across more privilege countries social media and the digital plane are being utilized to galvanize the masses. Especially recently, places like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr have been used to organize movements like the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, and the Occupy movement. There are two things you can say about this:
The first would be that these movements are all fairly new considering when countries like the United States were first introduced to social media. This fact can be both concerning and comforting. It is concerning because it speaks to a sort of devolution of society. It seems as if more and more problems arise everyday. Every time you look at your phone a new social injustice threatens to further divide our society. But one can argue that all of these social injustices have always existed only now with the blazing fast interconnected network that is social media and the digital age, every single indiscretion is at the mercy of being highlighted and magnified and rallied against. And that’s why the fact that so many movements are popping up in the digital realm is comforting. Because people are finally beginning to understand how to use social media and other digital outlets as ways to unite and inform and fight for what is right and just. Because the internet is no longer just a place to find memes or porn or other nonsensical stuff. Because online you can find support from people you’ve never even met. All of these reasons are why things like Black Lives Matter are important and comforting.
Which brings me back to the youth of the digital age in places like Egypt. Since their inception Twitter and other social media platforms have been tools utilized by the citizenry of Egypt to fight back against the military rule. Because of this these societies have been learning how to use their digital advantage for much longer than other more privileged places. Like I said, in Egypt the capabilities of Twitter matter much more than in some parts of the United States. The power of digital technologies is not only more valuable but it has been explored more by the youth and the oppressed. It is because of this fact, the fact that the youth of Egypt have been fighting their fight for years and years in the digital realm, that the studies and research on the impacts of digital technologies on the new generation should focus in places like Egypt. Not only that, but that countries like the United States should both pay close attention, and work vehemently with digital warriors of these regions to fully explore the revolutionary power of new technology.
Social media has started to play huge role in the lives of people across the world. It interconnects people who lives on opposite ends of the world, in completely different societies. Social media has promoted social and political change, and disseminates important information in a matter of seconds. Social networking through computer applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram gives activists and social groups the ability to spread information quicker than any other type of media. This phenomena of the increasing role in social media in all societies is called the “social media revolution”. It is taking over and creating a new world. In places such as the Middle East and other Arab nations social media has made a great positive impact. Social media has played a big part in changing the governments and how the rulers view the way they run their nations. Social media, although having many negative attributes allows people to voice their opinions in ways like never before. The internet is a somewhat safe place to talk about government issues and social problems without being completely scrutinized or physically harmed. It is the easiest for of communication in repressed areas because it is not hard to learn how to do and can usually be easily accessed. “Social Media Networks are fully comprehensible and usable even to novice activists, needing nothing beyond standard computer literacy” (Farid 2010, 5). It is amazing that Social Media has reached people in non-democratic societies, and is used as a tool to protest against discrimination and unlawfulness in their countries. I think social media has become so popular in areas with repression because it is a safer and more efficient than any other form of communication. Unfortunately there are downsides to everything in life and social media does have its faults for social movements and activists. In the articles, this easy and fast access to the outside world also creates problems for groups because of poor planning, coordination and communication. Organizers can make changes easily through social media and many people will not get the message or do not have direct access to the groups location. This can result in the diminishment of social movement groups because organization is a key foundation in creating a strong group.