Facebook and other social media have had a vast impact on how people relate to each other, and it has connected the world. No longer do we have to rely on one viewpoint or the narrative of just a few large news corporations. The content we receive is now our choice more than ever. To compensate, as Khalid said, it seems that the western media prefers to create heroes that their views can attach to, rather than serve up raw details and occurrences that would be more informational.
Where often we may find social media to just be a little bit of fun, and a distraction while we try to study in college, others don’t even have the opportunity to go to college, and it may be their only chance at freedom. Over the internet, information can spread faster than anything. Forget physical pamphlets, now digital ideas are in everyone’s pockets, updated every second.
Growing up in the US, it is incredibly hard, probably impossible, to relate to those living through a war, in constant fear of their life, with no rights and no security for themselves or their family. It is easy to just scroll past anything. In a world of things going viral, content needs to be extreme or unique. In more privileged parts of the world, some people are more likely to linger on the latest post from Kim Kardashian rather than explore the horrific events in Syria or other parts of the world. Part of this is a language barrier and some of it could still be an ignorance – but obviously where we live in the west is just one part of the world, and the large impact of social media in generating the Arab spring was focused where the revolution was happening. With the work of cartoonists, using the universal language of images, ideas can spread far, and be used effectively as art anywhere, like Khalid Albaih’s work which can be stenciled by anyone.
Social media has unfortunately also provided a platform for hate. Ideological extremists, racists, and even politicians, who feel protected by the barrier to interpersonal speech, and sometimes by anonymity will post. While I think more mechanisms must be in place to prevent hateful content, I think the opportunities supplied by the internet certainly outweigh the costs. Furthermore, social media isn’t necessarily creating any divides, but bringing ones to the surface that we might not have noticed before.
Unfortunately, following the Arab spring, oppressive governments, now more technologically aware, are able to block specific content, and even shut off their entire countries’ completely. With that said, can the internet still serve as a platform for full-scale revolution?