As Paul Revere rode through the dark night lighting his way with a lantern there was a distinct urgency in the air stemming from an impending assault by British forces. His rallying and alerting cry, “The British are coming!” has since become an historic and widely known quote. Now, imagine if Paul Revere had access to our current methods of mass communication. Rather than riding for hundreds of miles and having a lag in information flow, he could have simply “Tweeted” it to the fathers of our nation. Possibly a simple wall post to Thomas Jefferson saying, “Hey Tommy, the Brits are rollin’ deep and lookin’ to cause a ruckus.” Revere would have been able to set his status for everyone to have seen a much quicker response and possibly have avoided the shot heard around the world in Lexington, Massachusetts. How many other historical situations could have been documented, prevented, or exasperated by our social media?
Social media has revolutionized revolution. With great discourse and unrest throughout the Middle East earlier this year resulting in governments being overthrown, disbanded, and with dictators being executed, the recent history of social media’s relationship to restive political situations has become a “how to” for organizing a rebel force or mass demonstration. Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging and other social media sites have been used to help broadcast opinions to exponentially more eyes and helping to shape opinions and unrest. Technological advancement in communication has progressed from humble beginnings that were changed into “an emphatically social and communal place.” (Watson p.4) Keep in mind that not only are the masses able to view each opinion, but they can also each piece of criticism, and additionally, can reach and rouse dictators with a simple 140 characters.
Social media is a growing part of our private and professional lives. According to Facebook’s statistic page, networking websites like Facebook have grown to over 800 million users. Our parents, our employers, our spouses, co-workers, peers, and complete strangers adorn a personal website that can be used in as many ways as one can imagine. Each member has a list of people that are “friends” and with the accepting click of a button you are granted access to their entire world. You can see their albums which contain pictures of their entire life. You are able to read their innermost private thoughts all the way back to several years ago. You can see where they like to hang out, or what events they plan to attend in the future. Another growing feature is the creation of groups that follow certain interests. The groups gather all interested parties into one club-like group where a moderator can post updates to the subject wall, and all comers may voice an opinion.
These groups were a very integral element of the upheaval and unrest in the Middle East. The young people of the Arab nations struggle for independence and opportunity, which is to take control...