“Viva la Revolución!” … Yeah, I hate that phrase too. Do I hate it because I lack passion? Maybe. However if I was forced to pinpoint a singular reason, I would attribute this animosity to the simple yet important fact that because I live so comfortably in Australia, with my standard of living being so high, I simply do not care about politics. No matter who comes into power, my sense of well-being will most likely stay exactly the same. Because of this, I can’t ever see myself picking up a weapon and taking part in a bloody revolution, for instance. Does social media provide the answer for disinterested and cynical people like me? Is it helping us to become more politically engaged?
Yes. When the Labor government changed the rules for receiving Youth Allowance I created a Facebook page to bitch and complain like the over-privileged white person I am. But for more important, widespread issues, we see the power of the internet work wonders for social change. In regards to the uprising in Egypt in 2011, Usher states that “social media was to some extent a way for people to organize in Egypt, and it was a way to get the word about the unrest out to a wider audience.” In this instance, social media was not only able to get everyone together, but it also informed the rest of the world as to what was happening.
The ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous has also used the power of the internet to instigate social change, including several attacks launched against the Israeli government in 2012. Leaderless organisations, Brafman and Beckstrom write, have the ability to challenge and defeat established institutions. “The rules of the game have changed,” they say. Let’s hope they never change back.
Brafman, O & Beckstrom, R 2010, ‘The Power of Leaderless Organisations’, viewed 1st May 2013, http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power-of-leaderless-organizations-20100911
Usher, N 2011, ‘How Egypt’s Uprising is Helping Redefine the Idea of a Media Event,” viewed 1st May 2013, http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/