Social Media as Tools for Protest

The Blogs and Bullets reading I found extremely interesting. I think that new media has a tremendous transformative capacity in the realm of policy. But, as the authors point out repeatedly in that particular reading, no one is entirely sure how reasonable it is to place all causality in social media for these changes.  I definitely subscribe to the thought that social media is here to stay, and it’s going to change how we look at our communication practices domestically and across international borders. But, can it solely be used at a catalyst for change?

I think that’s a difficult question to ask, and despite the readings, I’m still not sure how I feel. One part of me is optimistic about social media’s ability to rally people around a central idea. The very use of the hashtag gives people the power to have a massive, collective discussion about a topic, and it helped to fuel information inside and outside of the MENA region during the Arab Spring. But is social media the special ingredient that mixed with others during the uprisings in the Middle East to make a revolution? I think that more than anything, a dramatic shift in power is born out of frustration, disenfranchisement, and the idea that administrative things can be done better, more effectively. In this sense, social media is just a tool to amplify public opinion, and connect likeminded individuals into a collective mass. The same can be said right now about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Those who are occupying spaces, and those that are spectators, are all part of the same conversation, which is largely happening online.

 

Is social media going to take over the actual physical landscape that we once used to protest? Are marches and rallies going to fall wayside to Twitter and Facebook groups? Or have we yet to see the actual form future protests will take on?

 

-DR

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