Tunisia, Egypt, Libya . . .
And the catalyst for this change? Social media.
Pity the poor dictator. What to do? The usual tools of oppression are dissipating into the ether:
- Keep the masses uneducated: Hard to do in this age of global outreach.
- Close down traditional media outlets: OK, but the citizens have handheld communication technologies available, and someone can always work around any technological roadblocks set up.
- Oppress through violence: It will happen, and the pictures of it will be on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and those pictures will feed the revolution.
Any parents of teenagers know that social media can bring a lot of people together really quickly. Small parties can blossom into big trouble really fast when one friend texts two friends, and those two friends text two friends, and so on, and so on. This happens with our comfortable Canadian teenagers with rights and freedoms and education and access to health care who want to get a fun message out.
Imagine how motivated people would be to get a message out about their oppression, when they have had no outlet for their voice, when they fear violence.
The events of the past few months highlight an inspirational new side to social media: the power to bring about social justice, and to bring that social justice quickly.
We can use social media to watch videos of cats playing piano, or we can use it to change the world.