Two of our reading this week seem to support the idea that while social media were a noted part of the Arab Spring, each country’s individual reasons for revolution were actually the impetus for the subsequent uprisings. In Lisa Anderson’s piece, she describes the differences in the development of the uprisings. She argues that while social media had an effect, the revolutions would have occurred anyway, as they did in 1919. Despite new technology, discontent, and not necessarily technological mobilization, breeds revolts.
The Haas article was similar, in that he too attempted to downplay the role of social media, remarking that previous technologies like the telephone and radio were as much a factor in their day’s revolutions as social media was in the Arab Spring. Governments learned to control them, but they had their effect. In this light, social media does not appear to be the magnificent mobilizing force it has been shown to be, but perhaps is another medium that will be ultimately taken over.
Question for the class: Do you believe that social media’s role was overplayed in the American coverage of Arab Spring? Why?