Just how did Facebook, twitter and blogs embolden people to protest against their government? Sam Graham-Felsen, chief blogger on the Obama campaign, wrote a very interesting article for The Nation on the role of the Internet in the Egyptian revolution. He says these uprisings were not random or spontaneous events. Instead, they were well-planned out and organized online:
Ultimately, activists are developing a shared movement wiki — one that is being continually re-edited and improved upon by an increasingly expanding web of contributors. In doing so, they have given each other the sense that they just might bend history towards justice.
It’s worth taking a step back to consider that for most ordinary people living under repressive regimes, nonviolent public protest is an absurd, laughable notion. The risk of being beaten, jailed, tortured or killed — as many Egyptian human rights activists have been over the past three decades — is terrifying. The only way a street protest becomes a remotely tenable proposition is if you know that you’re not alone — that many, many people not only share your anger but share your desire to do something about it. And when you see that your fellow protesters have a plan — that they are knowledgeable, organized and prepared — it gives you the confidence that your participation won’t be in vain. This is why the “We Are All Khaled Said” page — and the online organizing through private Facebook messages, e-mail list serves and Google Docs that sprung out of it — was so important for first-time activists.
When these young activists took their collective confidence into the streets — in numbers that hadn’t been seen for decades in Egypt — they showed that nonviolent mass mobilization was possible. Only then did the hundreds of thousands of older and non-connected Egyptians, who silently shared their grievances all along, feel compelled to act, too.
What sparked this change in power? Tell us in the space provided below.