The Costs of Change and the Fall of a Martyr

David Faris, We Are All Revolutionaries Now: Social Media Networks and the Egyptian Revolution

Faris focuses on the many aspects of cost attributed to activism, and how social media networks affect those costs. The monetary cost of organizing and participating in an activist movement is dramatically decreased by social media networks, where an organizer no longer needs to print and distribute their information or schedule physical meetings. With the low participation cost that social media provides to activists, there is less of a boundary to keep people from joining a movement. The argument against the decreased monetary cost is that their will be less of a commitment amongst activists if they have less invested in their work, but the gains of social media is worth the possible cost in loyalty.

Additionally, Faris’ term “many-to-many communication” describes the characteristic of social Media Networks where leaders or organizers can briskly communicate with their partakers and evade government officials. “many to many communication” also incorporates the concept that members of each other’s social networks can communicate with each other and follow on another’s activity (in relation to their shared movement or in general); this helps build digital trust, which is crucial in governments where potential costs to activism stray beyond money and into prison sentences, death threats, and more. Trust and transparency amongst a group of activists motivates those who would be afraid to protest in to taking action because the oppressive institutions have a tougher time penetrating and dismantling activist groups when each person is somewhat aware of what significant things happen to every other individual of their movement.

Social media makes activism cheaper, more efficient, and more dynamic than previous activism that relied on more physical, indirect, expensive, vulnerable forms of protest and activism.

Amro Ali and Dina El-Sharnouby, Distorting Digital Citizenship: Khaled Said, Facebook, and Egypt’s Streets

Ali and El-Sharnouby begin the article setting up the conditions of the youth popluation in Egypt that lead up to We Are All Khaled Said; 62% of the population are youths, though they are formally neglected in government representation and are plagued with multiple humanitarian issues. Khaled Said became are martyr for youth activism beyond the issues of police brutality and torture that he faced. Ali and El-Sharnouby carefully establish an address of WAAKS through a youth-oriented lens of social media theory.

What a powerful discussion on the flattening of Khaled Said’s character in his martyrdom. He succumbed to numerous issues that plagued Egyptian youth, but his digital martyrdom regarding police brutality wiped away all traces of substance abuse and hardship from the public’s view. I thought I initially misread Ali and Sharnouby when they claimed early in the article that martyrdom had a negative effect on Egyptian youth, but it is captivating that martyrdom can strip away a person’s dynamic character; it is essentially used as a tool to repress any activist movements that address the larger systems in place against Egyptian youth (rather than individual problems).

Closer look

The Costs of Change and the Fall of a Martyr

2 thoughts on “The Costs of Change and the Fall of a Martyr

  1. For me, the most interesting part of the Khaled Said article was the authors’ examination of the flaws of the WAAKS movement. The simplifying of Said’s story to make it one of martyrdom rather than one of a life plagued by social issues is definitely problematic. You mentioned that this had a negative effect on Egyptian youth, visible in the alienation of lower-class youth and those affected by social issues other than police brutality. Maybe we should not be too harsh on the flaws of WAAKS, since it was a new, spontaneous use of social media, and it was successful in mobilizing the Egyptian people. Although I do wonder if it would have been more successful if it was more inclusive of the many social issues faced by Egypt’s youth.

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  2. sgrab33 says:

    I liked how you focused on the aspect of “cost” in your post. I think it is very interesting to think about how social media allows amazing things to happen like helping start a revolution and the cost involved is very little compared to what it would be if there wasn’t any social media. Its amazing that there is a platform that has been created that allows the world to connect so easily and with such little cost. its almost like magic.

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