Would Gandhi do Social Media rather than Civil Disobedience? Protest still happens on the streets, see “Occupy Wall Street.” Increasingly it is online though. Most of us saw how it catalyzed and organized Arab Spring protests. That got the people, particularly the young to show up on the streets in a mass physical manifestation of dissent. However, the protest and the march are ever more frequently online, Twitter, Facebook and G+.
Internet Electing the President:
Online is now the frontline, from raising funding and support for political candidates to raising awareness and protesting government action/inaction. Online activity predicted the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election as Obama campaign/supporters dominated online. See our Blog for Video: “Web Will Crown Next US President” - http://www.filmannex.com/posts/blog_show_post/web-will-crown-next-us-president-by-ambassador-mo/41715.
Early this year, a campaign very quickly and effectively halted Congressional initiatives to impose more demanding obligations upon social media and other online platforms. The campaign was almost exclusively waged online. See our Blog for Video: http://www.filmannex.com/posts/blog_show_post/act-as-us-congress-prepares-to-vote-on-sopapipa/43795
Rush Limbaugh and Trayvon Martin though have raised the action quota of social media to new levels of effectiveness. After Rush Limbaugh called a young woman, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” and “prostitute” for advocating insurance coverage for contraceptives, a campaign erupted like a tinderbox against the “hate radio” host. The focus though was upon Limbaugh’s advertisers. They were bombarded through social media, and many of them both engaged the “online protesters” and heeded their calls to cease advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. More lasting, under the “hashtag” of #WarOnWomen, the #StopRush campaign confronted legislative initiatives around the US mostly led by Republicans that might be construed as infringing upon women’s reproductive rights/options. The response to #WarOnWomen might have occurred without the internet, but I doubt that it would have been as broad, intense and effective.
Social Media Goes to Court-Trayvon Martin:
The case of the killing of Trayvon Martin though might have gone unnoticed, and it did for almost 3 weeks until the social media campaign broke the ice penetrating both mainstream media and the collective consciousness of millions of online participants. What was though perhaps more impressive is that the social media campaign was able to deliver evidence/relevant facts in manner not possible by traditional media – and prompt both a US Department of Justice inquiry and appointment of a Florida State Special Prosecutor. See Blog for Video: “I’m White-Trayvon Could be My Son” - http://diplomaticallyincorrect.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/im-white-trayvon-could-be-my-son/
What Would Gandhi Do?
Not certain if Gandhi would have abandoned protest marches and civil disobedience for let his fingers do the walking and tweeting. However, rather than mutually exclusive, in person and online protest are complementary. The “Occupy” movement is proving the combined strategy effective even as its encampments have come under police assault. Especially as fragmented geographically and on issues as “Occupy” is social media has been actually a blessing to link pods of activists.
Return of “Protest Generation”?
However, the really effect of social media activism/protest may be in its sheer efficiency and appeal to individual capacities. It is most effective in disseminating information while coalescing a committed group of individuals around the pressing issue of choice. You do not have to get arrested to protest or even be confrontational, but there are few consequences for challenging the police or establishment (at least for now unless US goes way of China or Iran). Perhaps this is also the reason I’ve noticed as many or more AARP eligible citizens online as what might have been the typical young street protester. Perhaps this is also the return of the protest generation that reinvented it in the 1960’s and 70’s, but this time to the Twitter and FB timeline rather than the street.
(Beyond the online behomeths, the online activism is also on platforms as www.filmannex.com and www.diplomaticallyincorrect.org - with our video blogging website providing both opportunities for expressions of art/culture and accomodating a political blogging website)
By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey – Follow @MuhamedSacirbey
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