This weeks readings were a refreshing outlook on the past few weeks of the course. Many of our readings have said that social media, Twitter, and Facebook are either instigators of revolutions or are completely uninvolved. However, this week’s authors have focused more on “how” than “why” the revolutions happens and take a stance on social media – that it is neither independent of the revolutions or an instigator, rather just a tool.
Gladwell’s stance is perfectly stated when he says, “People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.” He is pinpointing the very issue behind all of the other readings, highlighting the fact that it should not be how these revolutions are started, because they would have happened regardless. It just matters why. There is always a way to complain if people want to. Those that have large enough problems with the government will go to the edges of the earth to make their opinions heard. So in the cases of these revolutions, social media was merely their tool. The subject that people should be talking about is why these people have such big issues and where their opinions are coming from.
Similarly, Cohn finally highlights the fact that the government has also come to the realization that the information transformation between government and citizen is the problem – not social media. They see social media as the solution. Through these social media sites, they can better inform citizens of what is going on. They want to be able to communicate with people where they already are instead of creating a new system of information or trying existing systems that are unsuccessful. This is evident throughout the Obama campaign and their ability to reach people – especially younger people – through social media sites. However, it is important to realize that, again, social media is not the answer. Governments cannot prevent revolutions through a few status updates and blog posts, they need to actively work with their people to keep them informed.
How do governments work from ill-informed citizens to a well balanced information system while still using tactics that the people are aware of. In other words, if social media is merely the tool with which people are talking, how can governments keep them informed without the use of social media – something we can see obviously isn’t work as of now.