Social Media Acceptance

The internet has changed the way people all over the world live their lives. It has stimulated global commerce and strengthened ties between people thousands of miles apart. Recently, with the revolution that took place in Egypt, many may point fingers towards the internet for what is to blame. Specifically, the social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, have captured the attention of the public because of its potential role in the revolution. The collaboration that social media sites promote can be very effective tools in rallying and mobilizing social activists and protesters. As a result, these sites could have been major players in the events that took place in Egypt. Cohn and Gladwell take two very different positions on social media after the Egyptian revolution. Cohn, of the State Department, stressed the importance of social networking, and how it is the government’s responsibility to take their presence to where the people are. In the case, that place is on social media sites. However, Gladwell does not share the State Department’s view, and he ultimately disagrees with the notion that social media sites play a significant role in determining the fate of a country. Despite Gladwell’s view that the human voice is what really prompts people to revolt, social media gives the public a unique opportunity to communicate and rally outside support when open collaboration is not entirely possible.

When examining Gladwell’s piece, the revolutions he brings up are from a time before social media and even the internet. One interesting example he used was the French Revolution, claiming that people are capable of starting revolutions without social networking sites. While this may be true, modern social change is in dire need of support over the internet, and sites like Twitter and Facebook are becoming so integrated into people’s lives that social movements must utilize them if they wish to gain the support they need. Cohn wrote that “you have to go where the people already are.” This shows that in order for movements to get attention, they must turn to social media’s ability to spread information and mobilize people.

 Gladwell does not seem to realize that sites, like Facebook, do a great job at spreading information at a fast rate and promoting awareness to a cause, which may have been most beneficial to Egypt’s revolution and the Arab Spring before that. 

How large of a role do social media sites play in these revolutions? Has it been increasing?

This entry was posted in Winter 2012 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Social Media Acceptance

  1. toriwhit731 says:

    I think that social media is beginning to play a larger role in revolutionary events. To say it has been increasing may be harder to gauge. Much like moving from the Howard Dean campaign to the Obama campaign, the ways in which social media can be used are complicated. Mistakes are made and those who follow learn from them. The same can be said about social media as a revolutionary tool. As a fairly recent one, it would seem that only time will tell of the power that social media is able to have.

    However, the Arab Spring is a great example of the importance of context. Each country coming from a different environment, a different governmental relationship, and a different level established Internet has drastically changed the outcome of each revolutionary effort. This emphasizes the importance of context in terms of revolutionary success, outside of social media use.

  2. marinanazario says:

    I definitely agree with you that social media is our platform to communicate but ultimately we have the human voice that prompts people to revolt. I don’t think people give enough credit to the human race, we are the people that come up with the ideas, not the technology. The technology is just a tool to gel facilitate our ideas. But I agree with Cohn that you have to go where the people already are; you need to stay modern in order to effectively get your message or idea across. We still have the voice, we just need to be willing to adjust to the times. I think social media has had a huge role in these revolutions of Arab Spring and social media use has been increasing. It’s just logical for the current time to use it. We, as a generation, shift with technology, together. So if social media is our most useful way of spreading information now then so be it.

  3. Neha says:

    As the commenters above me have alluded to, I too believe that social media is a great platform for initiating change and revolution, but also think that further steps have to be taken beyond social media for actual change to occur. Social media are extremely successful at spreading messages and information or even hindering it, as we learned from Youmans’ paper, but unless something physically changes, revolution cannot completely unfold. Perhaps the means by which change occurs is more modern or digitized, but the effectiveness of social media, I think, stops after spreading the word and does not go beyond that. That being said, I think that the role of social media has definitely increased over time and is more widely accepted and utilized today than ever before. They have become a primary source of gathering and spreading awareness and information. I just think that for real change to come about, there needs to be an action taken that moves beyond a Facebook post or a Tweet.

  4. kcwassman says:

    I agree with your idea that Gladwell perhaps doesn’t appreciate how powerful social media is as a way to communicate, but after our past couple readings I’m not sure how big of a role it played in the Arab Spring. I think it was an effective tool to spreading the word about the uprisings, but I don’t believe it aided the rebels as much as the news media posited.

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