Week 9: Social Media and What Not


I’m a big believer in democracy. I just want to say that now, because every time I have this discussion I come off sounding all authoritarian. Moving on…

The Arab Spring was a perfect example of how I think social media operates. It is fantastic for the organisation of people, the aggregation of opinions and, as demonstrated by it’s role in the arab spring, great for organizing large scale protests. That said, the Arab Spring didn’t turn out as great as we were all hoping. Why is that?

Well, dear reader, let me hypothesize at you. I believe it is because, though social media is excellent at organizing a mass of people to rebel or protest, it is no system of government. Moreover, when the protesters in Egypt were successful and the revolution was over, the social media movement failed to enforce structure. People were brought onto the streets to destroy a government, and social media was perfect to organise that, but social media could not build a new one.

I probably didn’t explain that right. Here’s a TED talk by one of the chaps that ran a facebook page at the center of the revolution who explains it way better than I ever could.




2 thoughts on “Week 9: Social Media and What Not

  1. A really good insight here. I actually agree, and don’t think you sound authoritarian at all. The nature of social media as distributed network means power is assigned horizontally and to the peripheries – there is no structure, and no centre (OK so that sounded a little cyber-utopian.. maybe limited* structure.) Which is great if you’re trying to disrupt existing power structures. But the anarchic nature of digital networks doesn’t exactly lend itself to establishing a a new, hierarchical power structure. Plus – social media can’t act alone. It intensifies processes already happening, and can’t replace a social movement that isn’t happening, such as in Yemen > https://t.co/Hfq4art9p7

    • Haha, thanks, it’s something I’m always worried about. Everything you just said is really well put, I might steal that for some other assignment. I guess the question is, do we need to have a centralised, authoritative, hierarchical structure? And if so, why? This is where I get kinda authoritarian, because I think that people do need regulation.

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