This allowed groups that might not otherwise know or meet one another to meet-up at the same place, at the same time without much advance planning. And, most importantly, the ability to spread the word is lightening fast--literally, from the touch of a button. In past revolutions, it was harder to communicate with disparate people. Thus, the crowds were often smaller in number and less people informed in the first place of information that would inspire them to revolt (i.e. WikiLinks). In the viral age of social media, it takes seconds for earth-shattering information to travel the world, twice over. This makes it virtually impossible for totalitarian, repressive regimes to keep the lid on their abuses of power.
But, perhaps what's most revealing about these Social Media revolutions are how they spread from country to country. In times past, it was harder for closed, repressive societies to learn news of what was occurring in other countries. However, now, people are linked up by these social media networks with people the world over, which allows them to spread information to average citizens who might not have access to an uncensored t.v. station or newspaper. Other technologies, such as proxy servers allow people to bypass government censors and communicate information that the state could have repressed in the past.
And, those people share it with other people--and on and on it spreads exponentially. Especially when you consider that huge numbers of the populations in these countries with dictatorial regimes in the Middle-East are under the age of 30. So, they are highly adept with the latest technology and how to use it to thwart governments. How does a repressive government shut down proxy servers in host countries that are democratic and do not censor the internet? They can't and that's why they are finally falling, like dominoes. These young people are tired of no opportunities and lack of jobs. So, combine that with an ability to see the world moving on without them via these social networks, and you have a revolutionary wave that stands to topple nearly any repressive regime in its path.
And, already it looks like Syria is about to be the next regime hit by it. Syrians are tweeting days in advance about a "day of rage" in Damascus where protests will swell the streets from February 4th through the next day. Syria has similar regimes as Tunisia and Egypt have/had:
Like Egypt and Tunisia, Syria suffers from corruption, poverty and unemployment. All three nations have seen subsidy cuts on staples like bread and oil. Syria's authoritarian president has resisted calls for political freedoms and jailed critics of his regime.
That from an article by Elizabeth A. Kennedy with The Associated Press. Will Syria be the next autocratic regime to fall? Let's hope so. This is history in the making folks--nothing like this has been seen since the fall of the former Soviet controlled, "Iron Curtain" countries of eastern Europe, in the early 1990s. This is how democracies should come about; not by outside force and war, such as in Iraq. Democracy can not come from the point of a sword but from the hearts and minds of the people. It is true what they say, that the pen (or, keypad in today's society) is mighter than the sword because once an idea is planted, it can not be rooted out by the butt of a gun and it can spread very easily by word of mouth. It's easy to kill someone but much harder to kill an idea.
PHOTO CREDIT: Egypt protests by Lefteris Pitarakis for the Associated Press.
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