You Say You Want A Social Networking Revolution?

Even the barely palpable NPR in the states is running articles on how social media are playing a part in what might bring autocratic regimes, like Tunisia, down to earth. Most recently, a story by Deborah Amos, tells us that, “There is a social media revolution in Saudi Arabia. Ten million Saudis are online, 3 million belong to Facebook, and Twitter feeds are up more than 400 percent.”

A quote by Hatoon Al Fassi, a political activist and a history professor at King Saud University says,”Everybody, politically speaking, is on their nerves,” she says, “and they are not happy with anything that goes on in the media.” By “they” we reason she is speaking of the political elite and powerful and the censors who risk a great deal by allowing this sort of dissention, or the reports of it more accurately, to get into print.

In spite of the efforts to bring many of the Middle Eastern, and North Africa, regimes in line on human rights abuses, little has been accomplished and fear and apathy replaced hopes and dreams in the region. Today the voice of Hillary Clinton appeared to have accepted the fact that social networks have done more in a short time to realize once again that the global sphere of influence is subjected to the whims of those who defy authorities with innocuous tools like Twitter, Facebook and Google. Videos inundating Youtube are going viral faster than spinsters can shake a hot stick in someone’s eye, and, from where we sit, change is upon us.

From Egypt, we see that Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog turned democracy advocate, has arrived amid escalating political unrest in the country and a wave of protests against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president of 30 years, inspired by Tunisia’s overthrow of their long-time president, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Hardly An Apathetic Picture In Egypt

From the Al Jejeera press we learn, “Social networking sites were abuzz with talk that Friday’s planned anti-government rallies could be some of the biggest so far calling for the overthrow of the 82-year-old president.”

A few months back, The New Yorker’s Gladwell quoted former national-security adviser, Mark Pfeifle, “without Twitter the people of Iran would not have felt empowered and confident to stand up for freedom and democracy,” who later wrote, calling for Twitter to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And in the same article, James K. Glassman, a former senior State Department official, told a crowd of cyber
activists, Where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools. Facebook warriors go online to push for change. “You are the best hope for us all” and thanked them for “aid that Al Qaeda was ‘eating our lunch on the Internet.’ That is no longer the case. Al Qaeda is stuck in Web 1.0. The Internet is now about interactivity and conversation.”

No telling if social networks will bring an end to the drone attacks killing innocents, tilt the Arabian Sheiks
towards women’s rights or change the way Al Qaeda makes friends, but as Golnaz Esfandiari wrote, in the same piece, “Simply put: There was no Twitter Revolution inside Iran.” The cadre of prominent bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, who championed the role of social media in Iran, Esfandiari continued, misunderstood the situation. “Western journalists who couldn’t reach—or didn’t bother reaching?—people on the ground in Iran simply scrolled through the English-language tweets post with tag #iranelection,” she wrote. “Through it all, no one seemed to wonder why people trying to coordinate protests in Iran would be writing in any language other than Farsi.”

Yet here in the states where the revolution is barely a memory, social networks fuel an underground media that stirs the imagination, if not the Congress. Surely, we can see that it’s a great way to peddle products and raise consciousness, but the jury is still out on if it will mitigate the tactics of our foreign policy.

Surely, we can see that it’s a great way to peddle products and raise conciousness, but the jury is still out on if it will mitigate the tactics of our foreign policy.

As is our custom, we combed the socialsphere to see what folks had to say and here are a few of our favorites;

From Twitter:

nmoawad Nadine Moawad
1000s of Yemenis demonstrating in Sanaa, calling on president for more thn 30 yrs to step down #Arab #revolution #now

zalazia Zala Zia
wow, first Tunisia, then Egypt, now Yemen…the spirit of #revolution seems to be spreading fast!


ohbytheway Matthew J. Martin
“those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable” ~JFK #Egypt


3arabawy Hossam عمو حسام
by AntoniousRS
No one knows what tomorrow is gonna be like. But I’m very hopeful. I’m very optimistiC Mubarak’s reign is about to end. #Jan25

IranVote Revolution IRAN vote
#RevolutionTools #IranElection #WikiLeaks #Tunisia #Egypt #Yemen #SprayPaint #NetRevolution #Iran #Election #VivaLiberty #Revolution

sprayedpainting sprayedpainting
Amazing painted hands – Amazing painted hands… #spray, #spraypaint, #graffiti

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