Today I am going to talk about how technology has revolutionised our ‘revolutions.’ (Hope you noticed my lame attempt at a pun in the title.) In other words I am going to discuss the impact technology has had and is having on getting us on our feet and motivating us to get on the streets and protest.
I personally see 2013 as a big turning point. All around the world in various continents people are rising up against their government and demanding for reform. Just this past week there have been protests in Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, Bulgaria and how could we forget the Arab Spring. All these different protests have had different starting points. For example in Indonesia people were demonstrating against higher fuel prices, in Brazil people were angered by higher bus fares, in Turkey people were protesting against a building project. As you can see in all these cases the starting point (‘spark’) has been different, however all these demonstrations have escalated to a point where the aim becomes a lot more serious and very similar. There has been a very clear message: WE WANT TO GET RID OF THE CORRUPTION, INEFFICIENCY, INCOMPETENCY & ARROGANCE OF OUR GOVERNMENT.
The message from round the world is the same and another thing common is the people involved in these revolts against government. It is the middle class that is involved and this middle class is not to be messed with. As the Economist puts it, “Politicians beware!” Previously protests would be organised by unions or large organisations but this is no longer the case. One thing has changed everything. That thing is technology!
Thanks to technology individuals can quickly spread information to each other via social media and protests can form from nowhere at astonishing speed. As seen in Istanbul, once the police set fire to an encampment in Gezi Park, the news of the event spread instantly via twitter and before you knew Turkey was in a national crisis with thousands on the streets protesting.
From a more personal point of view I remember how big an impact technology and social media had in shaping the London Riots of 2011, as I myself live in London. That time people were outraged by the police killing a local in Tottenham. (That was supposedly what people were protesting about, however I think it just got a bit out of hand and turned away from being a reasonable protest into a mad frenzy with some people joing the riots for the ‘kick’ of it and not to lash back at the police.) The reason why I allure to the London Riots is because once again social media can be accredited with getting everyone on the streets. A few people tweeted some ‘stuff’ and posted ‘something’ on Facebook and within the blink of an eye people were outside burning down buildings.
I certainly think technology has had a significant impact on how we express our ourself and go about striving for change. It has made actions quicker and sharper and put the politicians under pressure.
This change is great, however technology is sometimes abused, with people posting false information and misleading people into revolting. Also in some cases social media does have a rather large negative effect, as seen with the London Riots, which weren’t pretty for an already down economy.
To end this post I would like to give my condolences to the relatives of those who have died in Syria. The Syrian uprising has been on going for 2 years now and the week that has passed marks a very unfortunate milestone. That milestone being the death of over 100,000 people in Syria due to the uprising. (The figure is according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a British-based monitoring group.)