The “Arab Spring” has shown how mobilizing new digital technologies and social media sites can be. “The Role of Digital Media” by Philip N. Howard and Muzammil M. Hussain explains how individuals from North Africa and the Middle East, the Arab world, used digital technologies like the Internet and cell phones to expose corruption and protest their political leaders. Citizens from these countries started using sites like Facebook and Twitter to bring light to many of the wrongdoings of their leaders and used them to organize groups to meet and protest in the streets. When the governments tried blocking these sites to avoid the bad publicity, the protesters got creative, where in one example, they used an online dating site to organize supporters and avoid intervention. The use of social media sites and digital technologies in this situation proved to be successful in actually mobilizing supporters, which goes against Evgeny Morozov’s idea of “slacktivism.”
Morozov thinks that the rise of digital technologies and social media sites have caused our generation to be lazy, supporting causes only online or with a simple click instead of in person actually doing something. The “Arab Spring” has heavily relied on these new technologies to make a change in their countries. The countries had rulers of almost 25 and 30 years in the Arab world, and “Each was tossed out of power by a network of activists whose core members were twenty-somethings with little experience in social-movement organizing or open political discourse” (p. 40). New digital technologies made these social movements possible and easier for these citizens to make a difference.
Do you believe the “Arab Spring” would have been possible without the use of new digital technologies like the Internet and social media sites? Also, do you think the notion of slacktivism changes in the context of where these technologies are used?