Social Media and Activism- Who’s Driving Who?


Reading Morozov’s article on the topic of cyber utopians and revolutionary uprisings, I would have to say that I don’t think he would be much fun at a party. He has written a book ‘The Net Delusionin which he puts forward the notion that social media platforms are an accessible tool and not necessarily the main catalyst for social change or upheaval. Morozov also points to the fact that social media can be utilised by oppressors and “that the internet is more important and disruptive than [its greatest advocates] have previously theorised”.

Social media is an extension of our desire to communicate and I believe that it is interwoven with current and future events because it is an extension of our cyber selves, our way of interacting with the digital world around us. Donna Haraway introduces us to cyborgs in “A Cyborg Manifesto” as something that bridges a gap between humanity and machines. Social media is also a bridge and can assist cultures to realise the next step of evolvement. To me, describing social media activists as “the Internet’s cheerleaders” sounds like some form of journalistic snobbery. What is my opinion worth? I think it is of value because it is important to me. When someone such as Morozov puts forward an opinion I don’t agree with, I can argue my point via my blog. The essence of social media is that anyone can have a voice and sometimes those voices can bring about change. We want to communicate our ideas to others and we have been trying to improve on its methods of transmission since time immemorial.

I think that there are humanitarian and emotional aspects to the role social media plays in these protests and uprisings. I agree that social and cultural change is always percolating through the fibres of our lives and often for long periods prior to an event, however platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are more than mere postcard mediums. They can be used “for coordinating protest activities and sharing information” as in the case of the Euro maiden protests. Social media platforms can prevent hysteria and over-reaction in situations when groups are disconnected from main centres of protest. The EuromaidanSOS Facebook page was used to relay important information such as assistance for medical needs and legal advice as well as aggregating information regarding police brutality. These platforms have also been blamed for causing rioting and encouraging anarchistic behaviour. Whether we view the glass half empty or half full, social media platforms put forward a very human face which evokes some type of emotional, intellectual or humanitarian response from the viewer.

Resources:

Hamilton, A, Janiak J 2014, The future of journalism: “the world is going to be less informed”, Index: the voice of free expression, website, 24 October, viewed 12 November 2014,
<http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/10/autumn-magazine-launch-future-journalism/&gt;

Morozov, E 2011, Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go, The Guardian,  Weblog, 8 March 2011, viewed 24 October 2014,
<http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber-utopians&gt;

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