Tag: Cartoon

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.



Once in the 1800s, the Indians tried to revolt against the suppressive British Raj. During the mobilisation process, messages were sent across the nation written on bread, carefully wrapped in plates by some enthusiastic volunteers. Had the virtual community come alive some 200 years back, I wonder how that would have gone….

Time and time again history has observed the power of unity, often manifesting itself into a revolution. The characters may have been different, however the script has been similar. Take any case, the French Revolution, The American Revolution. Anyone. Individuals of society suffer, they come together, they bring about a revolution. However, the central part of the ‘script’ has gone constant evolution. Today, even if a Turkish and a Srilankan find themselves under the umbrella of a common opinion, they can “come together”.

While understanding and studying the concept of revolutions, it is important to remember that mobilisation of opinions is what truly counts. For opinions are to live on forever, not us. Now, the virtual community is up and running, encapsulating almost every aspect of our lives. Most of all, social media, focussing solely on connecting people, bringing opinions together. And we have already been subjected to its power, its potential. As discussed by Khalid Albeih, the Arab Spring of 2011 spectacularly brought something the world had never really seen before. With Social Media and its wide global usage, freedom, liberty, expression are no longer mere words inscribed in national constitutions; rather their existence is palpable.

However, one still feels that the social media is not yet in its final evolutionary stage. While there is no doubting its popularity, some areas are still untouched. Needless to say, there will be many more “virtual revolutions” finding their roots in social media. There will be many more Khalid Albeihs whose cartoons and subtle political wisodm will impact millions. And we ALL will have a role to play, whether sharing a Facebook post, liking an Instagram or simply browsing through a twitter feed.


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.

The Perfect Protest

The political cartoon can evoke tremendous emotion. It does not matter if you are illiterate, a cartoon can be seen and understood by many. Khalid Albaih has mastered this art form. Very recently his cartoon of a Syrian refugee could be seen all over social media. It spread like wildfire depicting a very young boy sitting in ruble saying if he stays in Syria along with another young boy dead in a river saying if he goes. It illustrates the tragedy that is currently happening half way around the world. Beyond being able to illustrate tragedies, the political cartoon does more. In many countries that do not censor their media it is much harder to criticize.

Khalid Albaih spoke very adamantly how growing up any propaganda that was against the president in his home country would cause the paper to get shut down.  He explained how posting in the paper was essentially impossible for long term success. Because of this he turned to social media. Currently it could easily be argued that social media, over newspapers is a much better platform to spread thoughts and pieces of art. In the US we are lucky enough that newspapers will not be confiscated for a cartoon, even if it disagrees with the majority of Americans’ ideals. Even with this social media maintains one of the driving forces of the spread of ideas. The amazing thing about the cartoon is how it is not as easily targeted by people who are against it.

In the US right now there are many major movements. The movement that comes to my mind first is the current protest by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players. Colin decided to kneel during the national anthem because of his thoughts on the treatments of blacks in the US. Many critics of movements for blacks’ prior was they caused problems, like riots in Ferguson, or they caused inconveniences for people beyond the protest, at Colby we experienced this. Colin has been shunned by many because they believe being an American citizen he must love America and everything about it. Anti-protesters think he has no choice, but to love the country. Personally, I think critics of protests will always find a way to say the protest is wrong because of their lack of support for the cause.

The cartoon is unlike any protest though. How can one say a photo on social media or in a newspaper is truly causing harm? While a riot obviously is a negative outcome of a protest the silence that Colin portrays is exactly what people who were against the riots wanted. A protest that doesn’t bother or inconvenience anyone, however once he did that it was said that wasn’t allowed either. The cartoon unlike these two prior kinds if protests is much harder if not impossible to say it is truly bothering. It can easily read over if it truly bothers someone. For many though they will stop and look at the cartoon. The cartoon is nearly impossible to critique and is easily viewed with modern social media.