East is east and west is west never the twain shall meet. The very popular quote of a Ballard seems to be apt in today’s scenario. The mass movements that brought out revolutionary changes in the west with the help of Social Media certainly can’t be replicated in India. Yet the social media has played an important role in mass movements that can’t be ignored too.
The social media has become a vital part of our life in this 21st century and is counted amongst the basic necessities. Rather than being just a tool for communicating with known ones, social media has come up as a very serious tool for initiating, organizing and executing mass movements which is an issue of great importance and concern.
The Egyptian revolution demanding the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is known to all. Protesters and their relatives and friends used social networks like Facebook and Twitter to provide up-to-the- minute information about where to assemble and about police crackdowns. They texted, e-mailed, and used Skype to let each other know that they were safe. Smart-phones recorded both peaceful events and injuries to civilians on the streets; YouTube posted the video clips. Bloggers, of course, posted everything they could get their hands on. Others stayed glued to the social networks for round-the-clock visual images of the protests and abuses. Sensing the threat internet was later shut down. Tunisian and Libyan revolutions also had a great impact on the society.
From pamphlets to fax machines, activists have been using communication technologies to share information, tactics, and build communities from a very long time. Internet and social networking has proved to be effective tool of communication with reduced barrier of entry into the conversation. Hence being an important asset for conducting mass movements.
The very recent “India against Corruption” campaign under the leadership of Anna Hazare attracted eyeballs of not only citizens of India but also of people around the globe.
No doubt social networking enables people with information and it certainly spreads the message among the masses with a fast speed being a “magic multiplier”. But the question that arises is that how close the virtual and the real world are. There are so many people who don’t even know about a particular campaign’s basic details, but they do support the campaign virtually by clicking the “like” button. Despite supporting the social movements over social networking websites many don’t turn up to support the campaign when it is executed in reality. This is what a sense of concern is. The campaigns initiated on social networking sites remain virtual and far away from appealing reality. There has been many campaigns like ”Save the girl child”, “each one teach one” and many more that many people support over internet but have little or no concern in reality.
While on one side many people are sitting and watching on the sidelines and getting excited by various uses of social networking in social movements, there are people on the other side who are taking communication through Social Media as a very serious issue. When the Egyptian revolution hit the government, they bought Internet monitoring technologies from Western companies and shut down the entire system, thereby hindering the free flow of communication. Another example of this is the Sudanese government setting up fake pro-democracy facebook pages calling for demonstrations and arresting the real protestors who show up. Such activities are terrifying and may lead to big issues of global concern in future.
All that could be said in the end is that, indeed Social networking is a powerful medium of communication yet it has Boons and Banes along with, which can’t be ignored at any cost. If used in productive way it can create wonders for the sake of goodness of the people otherwise mishappenings are unavoidable.
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