Many scholars today have questioned the fate of social movements to occur in the future and their turnout. With the introduction of social media, it has been up for debate as to whether this communications outlet has revolutionized the way revolutions may turnout or if this is just another fad. According to Gladwell’s argument in his article “Does Egypt Need Twitter” in The New Yorker, there have been plenty of cases where successful, social movements toppling the government have occurred without the presence of social media. Therefore, Gladwell believes the recent triumph leading to Mubarak’s resignation led by protests cannot be attributed to Twitter. To support his contention, Gladwell points out to Nazi Germany, French Revolution and the People’s Revolution in China emphasizing how in these particular instances social media did not exist, yet were extremely effective in rallying thousands of people for their varying causes.
Morozov expands on Gladwell’s statements claiming that our society over the year depends on their “technological fixes”, which have been implemented in former social movements to change citizen’s attitudes and social behavior i.e. the propaganda spread on the radio to change Germans’ perceptions of the Jews. Morozov states that because of the Internet’s immense presence in our society, particularly social media, we have become extremely dependent on this medium for now to solve all of our problems and result to Twitter and Facebook to look for problems we can seek out to fix. These platforms have been utilized by activists to voice out their issues in a concentrated area and rely on it’s following to fix their issues. However, Morozov the major issue with our society’s dependence on technological fixes is that because our current technologies “attack symptoms but don’t root out causes”, they will have detrimental outcomes yet to predicted that will ultimately exacerbate the current problems political dissidents are voicing.
Meanwhile, Alicia Cohn claims that “the role of social media in recent revolts in Egypt ‘validated’ the shift in strategy” among social movements and communication to the masses, resulting in the State Department’s move to employing social media. The State Department’s active, web engagement along with it’s translation efforts has enabled them to reach a wider audience and notify people of government happenings on a wider scale than ever before. In addition, the State Department has adapted it briefs and posts to a condense, summarized amount as seen on Twitter and other social mediums. Coincidence? I think not.
So my question to you all is social media just our technological fix to solve our issues for now or is a medium that has reformatted the way we operate. I believe that our society, particularly activists, have adapted to various technological advances of that era to rally support and citizens for change and it is questionable due to social media’s young age to see whether this particular medium has revolutionized the way in which social movements are created and executed. I believe we need to look back at this question 15 years later to see whether Twitter, Facebook and other similar sites have remained dominant and employed by leading activists eager to make changes in the government before we can make such assertions today.