At a glance, no one would have ever assumed that what happened in Egypt had anything to do with Facebook. Why would they? Thousands of people protesting against their government in North Africa hardly has anything to do with social media, right?
Wrong. Bob Dylan hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said the times are a’changin, but I doubt he could have predicted this one.
The revolution in the world of communication has been going on for a few years now. Facebook has skyrocketed to social media fame, and twitter somehow became a news source (though that has the ability to cause more harm than good). However, in my opinion, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one, nothing has ever illustrated this revolution in communication more than the Egyptian revolution a few weeks ago.
The Egyptian government might have shut the internet down for a few days to try to hinder the revolution, which I suppose you could consider a nice try on their part, but it didn’t change anything. Thanks to social media, the entire world was watching, waiting to see what would happen next.
Mind you, it wasn’t just social media. There were plenty of journalists there doing their jobs despite the threat of physical harm or detention. Those journalists, both professional and civilian, played a huge roll in the Egyptian revolution as well as the revolution in the world of communication.
When you look back to the sixties and seventies, at all the protesting that happened, just think about how incredibly different things would have unfolded. There was no moment-by-moment updating from the middle of a massive protest, or chaotic and grainy cellphone videos uploaded with a link on Twitter for the world to see. When journalists team up with social media, the way we consume news changes completely — there are so many options it can become overwhelming pretty fast.
I didn’t get Twitter until after the Egyptian protests simmered down, and Mubarak resigned. Though I would be lying if I said what happened in Egypt, and the role Twitter played in getting the information out didn’t sway me in the decision to sign up. Before this, I kept it fairly basic by today’s standards — mostly TV news and print articles online.
It’s hard to say whether or not this shift in the world of communication, which was highlighted throughout the Egyptian revolution, is for the better or not. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. Social media as a means for news can stir up many problems, especially in such a fast-paced news environment where the time to double check facts becomes a luxury. But with that, there is also many good things that can come — tangled up with all the nonsense and and rumours, there is news. The public just has to work on telling the difference.