Tag: art

Change at the Palm of our Hands

What’s more fearful than a man with no political allegiances and access to millions of your citizens? To corrupt governments other than nuclear arms, nothing. Khalid Albaih encapsulates the way of the future for many activist around the world. Where once newspapers and television were the mediums to sensor and control through money, social media is a platform that is difficult to manage without overt censorship and as such is the meeting place for views that governments constantly try to stifle. Particularly in the Arab Spring, platforms like Facebook and Twitter were firestorms for the likes of the Egyptian government because events and posts would pop up without warning and be views by millions before the government could have it removed. Unlike a piece of paper of television broadcasting, the power of the internet is that without a direct blocking of global signals or global websites it’s almost next to impossible to stop people from posting what they like. Khalid knew this and other activist knew this and they all used their knowledge to their advantage.

In Khalid’s experiences he understood that the success of using social media derived from the fact that this platform was the only true and honest source of information left in the public sphere. There was a sense of immediacy and pressure that arose with this use as if it was the only way. In that he articulated the difference in the United States is that we still have faith in other platforms. That is half of us wants to believe in the information we receive from the government, cnn, the new york times, and our representatives. Khalid asserted that this is a privilege, and for him, everyone, and their mother knew that no public source of information was credible in Sudan or in North Africa because they were all controlled by the government and money. However, in this problem of legitimacy also was this problem of saturation and quality. With the use of social media in places where their is no legitimacy elsewhere, places like Facebook have become awash with tid bits of information that are supposed to educate, excite, and produce action, but how are revolutionaries supposed to acquire and hold that attention. While social media is the last free outlet to produce information, how do you assert yourself in a sea of frankly bullshit. With over 500 million people joining Facebook in the last four years, Khalid and other activist of the Arab Spring are trying to continue their fire but amidst a large and less active crowd.

Overall, Khalid conveyed how the difference in social justice movements here versus movements back in the Sudan, North African, and the Middle East is that theirs are done in a last ditch effort. That is they are done as if there is nothing left because doing that action can be life or death. For Khalid, social media wasn’t just an evolution in spreading news to inform people, but it was a revolution in enacting change.


How To Start a Revolution

What’s the best form of social media to use to start a revolution? According to Khalid Albaih it’s all of them. Social media is constantly evolving and becoming more widespread throughout the world. Recently, it was a way for those involved in the Arab Spring to communicate and organize. Social media is a tool that is accessible to many people all over the world and allows everyone to share their opinion, to have a voice. It is an alternative to mainstream media sources that only report one person’s opinion. The ability to voice an alternative opinion and share it with the whole world is, unfortunately, a revolutionary concept for many people.

Khalid Albaih defined a revolution as a series of events that make up a story. Additionally, this story is made up of multiple peoples’ stories. Social media sites provide a platform to share these stories in a multitude of ways. You can learn the story of someone’s life just by going on his or her Facebook page. Snapchat allows users to share what is going in their lives right as it happens. On Instagram, users share a picture that best describes their thoughts or life events. Twitter makes users get their message across in one hundred and forty characters or less. There are so many ways to share a story, but stories are also circulating quicker now. This means they are also forgotten much more rapidly.

We live in a world of constant stimulus, which makes it harder for things to hold our attention. One issue with social media is that it is difficult for one to stay relevant. It allows us access to so many stories and opinions, that we do not ever focus on one. Khalid Albaih has found a way to stay a significant figure throughout all of this. It is because he is constantly on social media: reading, posting, sharing, etc. He lives his life in this online world by commenting on what is happening in the real world in places her cannot access. If someone reproduces his work in a place of conflict, it provides Albaih a way to “be there” without physically being there. This concept allows everyone in the world to become involved with revolutions, not just those who are actually there.

The standard idea about art is that it is something aesthetically pleasing to look at with some meaning, but not always. Art is not typically thought of as a tool for a revolution. However, modern art has become a form of protest and social commentary. Pieces of art in galleries are observations of our world and what has become of it. Nothing is ever just a pretty picture; there is deep meaning behind every brushstroke of green paint and piece of paper cut in a circle. Albaih is a political cartoonist, so his work is expected to have meaning. He has become so influential that people in power are afraid of what he will draw about them. He has truly used the tool of art as a way to start a revolution. The fact that this art can be shared online makes it even more effective. We can literally start revolutions from our living rooms.