Social Media: A Catalyst For Change

social_media_and_the_egyption_revolution

Social media networks have given power to the individual, particularly the youth. With a digital tool that is safe and easy to use, activists have the ability to use social media networks to communicate with large numbers of people, and ignite a revolution, in authoritarian countries. This was the case for a repressive Egypt, where social movements like Kefaya (The Egyptian Movement for Change) and the April 6th Youth Movement, paved the way for one of the recent important digital forms of activism which was a catalyst for the Egyptian Revolution, the “We Are All Khaled Said” (WAAKS) youth movement.

For a long time, the youth in Egypt has had a tapestry of unanswered problems which has resulted from the ruling of the National Democratic Party (NDP) under Hosni Mubarak. The youth, that encompass the majority of the population, has been constantly marginalized and repressed both on the political and economic scale. But, the final straw came on June 6, 2010 when Khaled Said became a martyr after his gruesome death at the hands of two police officers.

Khaled Said’s death is one of the many unfortunate examples of Egypt’s harsh authoritarian regime, specifically pertaining to the Emergency Law. His death was one that many Egyptian citizens could relate to, thus the name of the famous Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said.” What made this campaign have such a national impact was the role that social media played. By using an online platform, like Facebook, to discuss the harsh realities that the Egyptian youth face, WAAKS created a campaign that was not going to be ignored.

Even though the WAAKS youth movement caused attention, as Ali and El-Sharnouby pointed out, “…people are still waiting for their problems to be addressed.” Even after the January 25 Revolution, Egyptian youths still face many unanswered problems including low-quality education, no steady income and employment, drug abuse, etc. There is definitely still so much to be done in the fight against Egypt’s repressive authoritarian regime but social media networks have illustrated that youth can use these digital tools to share their problems and move toward change.

 

Advertisements
Social Media: A Catalyst For Change

The approach of using non-violent or violent means for social change

When I read an article about social movements and mobilization in the Middle East, I was unsure at first of the terminology the author was describing. Things like what was SMI stand for? What are these social movements ultimate end goal is? Are these movements on a massive scale spanning multiple countries or only informally organized on the local level of different regions across one country? What are the kinds of consequences that would result if individuals decide to rise and create change in their government? But while reading this article the biggest question that came to mind is this: If these social movement groups are successful in some way in making innovative change, will it be long lasting for future generations to appreciate or will it only last for a generation of people?
As I read some of my immediate questions were quickly answered. An aspect I learned from this article is the two different overall approaches to making long lasting change in their home countries, run by these regimes with strict rules and regulations that limit the freedoms of some or all people that live under them. One approach is the use of non-violence, commonly expressed in online social media campaigns like “Black Lives Matter” raising awareness of police brutality towards black people in America. Another example of expressing non-violence to make change is the use of protest/peaceful assembly. I think this a great first step for any social movement to start getting the word out to the general public. But, it also has some potential consequences for those actions. An example of this was a group in Egypt called EOHR took over and protested in a steel factory. But was shortly ended when police forces coming in to stop and or detain protesters. Sadly one of the protesters were killed during the struggle. Than on the other hand is the use of actual violence. The most common way to express this option for social change is the use of defacing/destroying private or public property and possibly harming others associated with the regime a.k.a. riots.
So in conclusion do I believe that one approach is better than the other? I don’t think so, all I know is this: this region of the world has been in conflict in some shape or form for more than a decade now. On the idea of people having basic human rights like freedom to vote, peaceful assembly and due process. As well as the ultimate question in how are these people in these oppressive regimes will get the freedom they deserve.

The approach of using non-violent or violent means for social change