Tag: Khalid Albaih

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 Spread Idea’s

Facebook is changing the way humans receive news. As the new generation grows up in the internet age, and forms habits based on current technologies, Facebook becomes the base camp of internet information consumption. This change comes from Facebook’s specialized feed of information, which is made up mostly of friends photos and specialized media. This specialized media is made up of articles and videos posted by friends from credible and non-credible news sources. because of the variety of the Facebook’s news feed, it easily becomes the most efficient and enjoyable news source. Due to the fact that everyone uses Facebook and it is extremely easy to share with friends, the platform becomes an amazing way for activists like Khalid Albaih to spread there word of reform. The visually based feed always for Khalid to share his cartoons with thousands of friends instantly, or even share them to a group full of people from certain locations. All it takes is one captivating cartoon until the user has clicked on it and is  learning about the social movement Khalid is pushing for.

Although Facebook’s sharing power is amazing for positive social movements like Khalid’s, and a relaxing time online, it can also be a bad thing, giving people false/bias perspectives. Most of the news that comes up on your Facebook feed is not from the sources that you “like” or follow, but from other people who shared the information. Everyone has friends that want to be or are activists, and so many of these people are sharing information about controversial issues that people are aware of. Therefor the information that is posted is not intended to spread word of this issue but to force an opinion on it, and often, a very biased opinion. Personally my Facebook feed is infested with biased opinions on controversial issues. These sources often seem to quiet official and always have the intent of hooking a young Facebook reader, when the bias is so great Fox news and CNN might as well be the same. One could say that Khalid’s posts are one sided, however the intensions behind the posts are deep with the intent to make the world a better place, and the majority of the world will always support him as he marches forward to bring more freedom to the world. Facebook is amazing way to share idea’s for the masses, however we must be careful in recognizing what is important and what is not.

Social Network and Social Movement

When Mark Zuckerberg first created Facebook, his vision was to create a tool and plant form for interpersonal communication online, which could be beneficial for entertainment purposes. However, he might not even think about how influential this tool can be used for many social movements. As more people are starting to use social media, which allows everyone to instantly share their ideas and opinions on certain events, it has become a much more powerful tool in social changes and movement.

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Social Media is the Platform for the Start of a Revolution

Khalid made it clear that social media is powerful, for its universal use and ability to bring people the truth. Thus, Social media serves as a platform for a revolution where many people can gather for the same cause. At the same time, it cannot be a platform for a full Revolution as it lacks its ability to reach and affect the people that can make actual change.

Khalid’s work was shown to reach a wide audience. In fact, his work has been able to reach at least a million views. From his talk, I understand that partly why his work reaches so many people is due to his work. For one thing, his work is speaking to views that affect many people directly and should affect them if it does not. He is speaking to everyone when he does his political cartoons as he covers stories and events that occur all over the world. In addition, Khalid uses visuals with as little language as possible, this helps his work become a piece that people can make their own. In this way, many are able to relate and if it does so, all it takes is a “share” or talk with friends to lead to it being exposed to a massive amount of people world wide. Furthermore, as Khalid has mentioned, there is so much access to social media. More importantly however, is the fact that social media is can bring the truth to people. In cases of censorship, like in Sudan, no one received the truth and propaganda was used to show what the government wanted to show. At the same time, media and social media can share the real news.

Social Media is thus, a great medium to reach people. Sometimes this may even be the only way we get the truth of what’s happening in our communities, our country, and our world. For example, today, social media is the reason such a bigger audience knows of the reality of police brutality. Khalid made it clear to us how accessible and useful social media can be for a revolution with his work as an example. Khalid he can create a couple of works a day and once he shares them it’s a start. This kind of start with others who have similar or different ideas can be the next revolution. In addition, a positive effect of using social media as a platform for activism would be breaking the typical view of one person being able to change and/or lead a revolution. Social media gives many the opportunity to represent and heard, a very progressive move. Lastly, the truth and the awareness social media brings can ultimately save lives.

As great as social media can be there is appoint where it wont be effective enough to reach a full revolution. Take for example the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter hit it off on the internet yet there has to be more done. It has reached a very large audience but at the same time receives a lot of backlash. For example, it has been altered and people fight for All Lives Matter which is pure nonsense. Many have been able to join the movement but there needs to be other steps taken to affect those who can make actual change. This said, social media is a great first start to a revolution as it grabs more of people’s attention yet more needs to be done for real change.

The Emergence of Art as a Revolutionary Language

Political cartoonist, Khalid Albaih, employs the use of social media to express to spread revolutionary thought through nations with strict and oppressive censorship. Albaih views the internet and social media as a “visa,” which allows the oppressed to demonstrate the truth of their nations to the rest of the world and gain support in their respective revolutions. In many of these nations published newspapers are heavily censored by the repressive governments, and serve only as propaganda, not an actual account of the nation’s state. Albaih discussed the emergence of the Arab Spring Revolution, and how this was really the first large-scale revolution that arose over social media.
A key aspect of the start of the Arab Spring was the involvement of a young democratically aimed population. Young, and educated people employed social media tools, like Facebook, to connect and organize a revolution behind the back of their government. Since Egyptian leadership had little knowledge of social media they remained oblivious to the coming revolution and had difficulty quelling the extinguishing the uprising. Many repressive governments blame social media for the rebellions in the nations. Social media provides a space to organize and discuss revolutionary ideas; however, it is not the cause of these ideas and thus cannot take the blame. Ultimately it is the repressive governments that must assume the blame for revolutions since they serve as the entity that inflicts harsh rules, thus causing angst throughout their respective societies.
When asked if he thought the Arab Spring failed, Albaih remarked that real revolution takes time. The Arab Spring only started in 2010, and throughout history the biggest revolutions have occurred over decades and arguably centuries. The people in Egypt have been “broken” by living under an oppressive rule for a very long time, thus their revolution will need more than six years to reach an end. The Tunisian revolution was mentioned as an example of precipitous revolution. The difference between this revolution and the Arab spring is the Tunisia was already a very small and open-minded nation, which had systems in place that could be utilized once their tyrannical leadership fled. Since the nation is so small it also did not have a very active military to oppose the revolutionary citizens. Egypt on the other hand, has a much larger population with over 18 million citizens. The large nation has a very powerful army to control its citizens, and there are no systems in place to replace leadership once tyranny is expelled. Having a large population means that it is also more difficult to spread revolutionary idea throughout citizens, especially since more of the population is uneducated. While the people of Egypt still struggle to oppose oppressive leadership, social media still serves as an important tool in maintaining the revolution and involving other nations.
Albaih uses political cartoons instead of blogs or other writing since image can serve as a “universal language”. Humans have developed an extremely short attention span in regards to what they view on social media, and images work best to reach the largest variety to people the fastest. Images also have the power to show as opposed to tell. An image is more effective since its message relies on the interpretation of the audience. This can lead to many different interpretations of one image, some of which may not unveil the artist’s intent, but this also makes the message more personal for each looker since their conscious plays a role in the message. When someone is simply told something, he or she is more likely to become skeptical of the message depending on how much they trust their source. The audience of something told also plays no role in the message itself, thus it means less to each member and is less likely to incite change.