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?