social networks: demographics and democracy

27 Feb

by Georgina Leggate

 @GeorginaLeggate

Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya…social media has been the driving force behind most of, if not all of, the 2011 protests that have taken place in the Middle East. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook not only played a huge role in the pro-democracy surge but they have provided a platform of communication, which is accessible to all areas of society. These networks have acted as a starting point for all of the protests and have given eclectic groups of repressed citizens, a taste of freedom.

The rich, the poor, the educated, the non-educated, thousands of individuals have been part of what we now call ‘the revolution’. Social media enabled both the protesters and their followers the world over, to support mass movements against autocratic governments.

Social networking also has the amazing ability to crush and flatten hierarchy. Let’s take the Egyptians for example. It is easy to think that the poor or the unemployed triggered the demonstrations, when in-fact there was a growing culture of frustration amongst all socio-economic classes across Egypt. Due to Mubarak’s repressive regime, class distinctions have become more and more blurred. Low pay, low moral combined with high levels of intellect and motivation created a spark that was going to fire up in to something much more.

The reality was that the individuals behind the progressive movement were young, educated and often, privileged men who had access to the Internet and had the ability to use it. The ever-increasing world of social networks that protesters used, gave them a voice.

The use of these social networks enabled technologically savvy protestors to make extraordinary use of the Internet and mobilise the masses. Despite an authoritarian government, social media gave the Egyptians back the power to the people as they usurped the incumbent Egyptian leadership.

Social media was used as a platform to reach citizens in their own country, neighbouring states and crucial, global, expat communities as well.

Unbeknown to the Egyptians, they were to start something quite spectacular as they gained national and international support. This ‘something’ was the ‘revolution’ which arguably stemmed from a large dollop of dictatorship, a sprinkle of civil unrest, a pinch of the people served with a large spoonful of social networks .

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5 Responses to “social networks: demographics and democracy”

  1. Rebecca Hampson February 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    How true! What an excellent and honest take on the troubles in the ME. Look forward to hearing more.

    • Alex February 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

      Couldn’t agree more. Fantastic piece of writing giving a great insight into the way in which modern technology can be used by every man to make their voices heard by many.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Are we giving Social Media too much credit for the Middle Eastern uprising? « meandsocialmedia - February 28, 2011

    […] Feb You may have read my colleague Georgina’s thought provoking piece on social networking and the fight for democracy in the Middle East. Yes undoubtedly social networks have and are still playing a part in rousing a lust for […]

  2. Libya: Partisan coverage from mainstream media « meandsocialmedia - March 6, 2011

    […] Ian and Georgie have argued in turn, social media has had some part to play in what’s going on in the Middle […]

  3. The Dark Side of Social Media: How the Internet Can Hurt Revolutionaries « meandsocialmedia - March 24, 2011

    […] Egypt to Libya, the topic of social media and the revolutions in the Middle East has spread from Georgie to Ian to Caroline, and now to me. As the title suggests, I’m going to look at the third […]

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