The Internet As An Instrument Of Political Change
On February 15, 2012, 3:24 AM by Savannah Cox
Have social media and the internet changed the face of global activism?
An image has begun circulating around the web and in the process has gained quite a bit of popularity. What is it? Nothing more than Homer Simpson’s favorite food, the donut, explaining the bevy of social media outlets on which we waste an inordinate amount of time every day. Initially, the donut seems to be an odd medium through which to explain media networks, but upon further reflection the relationship between donuts and social media is quite evident: both, when consumed in excess amounts, can be unhealthy and make us unappealing to others.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Awareness of the potential for social media to impact political and social upheavals began in the spring of 2009 with the tweets and rallies of Moldovan protestors against their Communist government. From Tehran to Tahrir Square, many in the West have lauded the Internet and its various social outlets for introducing a new wave of inclusive activism—some to the point where Twitter was actually considered to be a contender for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
Most recently, in light of recent anti-SOPA and PIPA successes coupled with the backlash involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s threat to sever financial relations with Planned Parenthood, many declared the Internet and online activism to be the victors against proposed legislation that could potentially lead to online censorship and allegedly politicized budget cut proposals that would endanger the health of many women in the United States.
To be sure, both are incredible accomplishments. But is it right to say that the Internet “won” them both? At a point in time where many of us look at screens more than we do each other, it seems we have confused an organ of change for the origin of change: ourselves.