“The internet has no borders”. Khalid Albaih expressed how any why the internet, specifically social media, acted as a catalyst for political unrest. However, in order to truly understand the rise of the political internet, it’s critical to examine why it gained immense popularity. In hopes of suppressing any outside view or criticism of the current government, Albaih noted that even in his own country, newspapers were written with a very narrow perspective, one that agreed and complied completely with the government and its policies. These sources of news were not newspapers, they were propaganda, targeted at citizens as to lessen their horizons and strengthen their loyalty to the government. With a corrupt system in play, change was necessary in order to give knowledge to a suppressed population with little access to outsider opinions. With the failure of newspapers to deliver trustworthy, unbiased opinions and information, Albaih and many others turned to the internet in order to spread their message through unfiltered and uncensored lens: the movement takes off. Albaih specifically noted the example of the businessman working the streets of Egypt who set himself on fire, resulting in a massive response; however, if social media was not available to cover this event, the story originally titled: Man Sets Himself on Fire in Response to Awful Governmental Treatment is now titled: Botched Suicide Bombing. Luckily for the people of Egypt and around the world, this story was not mangled and twisted by the mainstream governmental-propaganda newspapers. But instead, this event was recorded and posted on internet, helping to spread the word and expose oppressive governments. Proof of this viral video’s impact is evident in the fact that thirteen videos of people setting themselves on fire in protest were posted within a week of the original one.
While articles and videos can be helpful in demonstrating an idea, Albaih noted an obvious flaw in some of these forms of media: the boarder of language. Although revolutionists have set out to translate and decode messages to allow people of all tongues to take in the information, Albaih claims that a strong way to spread a message is through a cartoon. Unlike English, Chinese, or Arabic, “art is a universal language”, a message that needn’t contain words in order to spread an opinion to others. Albaih has claimed to draw a cartoon every day for the past few years, some of which have gone viral and have stirred the long standing opinions upheld by many. Most notably was his cartoon of Honsi Mubarak, the current president of Egypt at the time. While the cartoon itself has a strong message, more importantly, the cartoon spread quickly. Albaih notes that the cartoon was spray painted and drawn on walls all over Egypt. Simply by designing an image and publishing it on the internet, Albaih had started a chain reaction: his work had gone viral, and his message had been spread. By initiating a tidal wave of new perspective and thrusting it upon others, he had rebelled against censorship and exposed the faults in the current president Mubarak. The internet has opened doors that were previously locked due to the government’s influence on mainstream media. With countless new perspectives and unfiltered criticism, social media has lifted the curtain of ignorance that the government has draped upon them.