In this week’s readings, there seemed to be some important contradictory opinions in terms of the importance of social media. In the Gladwell reading, an important idea is brought up when asking, “Does Egypt Need Twitter?”. When first starting this article, one would assume, “yes, of course!” but after finishing the article, the answer changes. Gladwell reflects on world history and discusses how people were able to overthrow governments and bring about change long before the internet was discovered, which is something that most people today forget (Gladwell). Although Gladwell is showing how the internet is not essential, Cohn shows the opposite by discussing how the United States is turning to social media more than ever before. The way that our society is structured causes us to use social media more than in the past, even when it is not necessary.
Cohn states that the United States archived their site, America.gov, and switched their efforts to social media because that’s where the majority of people are (Cohn). This impact that the United States is assuming social media has on it’s people is similar to the Wilson and Tufekei reading from last week, in which Tahrir Square protests in Egypt were organized. In the case of the Tahrir Square protests, many people learned about the demonstrations through social media, even though activists were punished for what they were doing (Wilson & Tufekei). This awareness still was a motivating factor in the movement and shows just how social media played an important role in the events that transpired. Both the Cohn and Wilson and Tufekei readings some what contradict the Gladwell reading, by showing positive uses of social media in political movements.
The good and bad aspects of social media in today’s society are further highlighted by the Youmans reading, which talks about the four different cases in the Arab Spring. These cases all show how democracy is being limited or prevented by government control of social media and internet use (Youmans). It is important to consider, therefore, just how important social media is. Do you think that today’s political movements would be more effective if there was not internet and people mobilized like they have in the past? Do you think that social media is essential in today’s society due to the amount of people who use and depend on it? Do you think that there is a better alternative?