Both in Canada and the U.S., many journalists and talk show hosts are praising the actions of Egypt, while wondering what happened to our own democracies.
Egyptians risked their lives to overthrow a ruthless and corrupt government, and we can't even get off the couch to cast our ballot. We should be ashamed.
But for those not inspired in North America, across the Middle East and Africa, there has been a domino affect. According to the Toronto Star: Citizens, ex-soldiers, labourers protest across Arab world
They list the countries currently uprising, and there's a common theme. Income disparity and police brutality. I kept rereading the names, because they could have been about Canada.
Libya: "Egypt-inspired unrest spread against Libya’s longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, with riot police clashing with protesters"
Yemen: "... sent 2,000 policemen into the streets of the capital on Wednesday to try to put down days of protests against the president of 32 years"
South Africa: "Police fired rubber bullets Wednesday to disperse protesters in a third day of demonstrations in the eastern town of Ermelo"
And all of this started as a result of social media.
Over the last year, many have questioned just how important social media are in helping activists achieve social change. Writer Malcolm Gladwell wrote a famous essay in The New Yorker entitled “Small change: Why the Revolution Won’t be Tweeted.” He argued that social networks only create weak ties between people, but that it’s strong ties and close relationships that bring about real social change.
The topic has been widely debated, and then reality stepped in: If Twitter, Facebook and YouTube didn’t exist, Hosni Mubarak would still be president of Egypt. The social media tools gave Mubarak’s opponents unprecedented ability to share information and organize their activities, including the massive protests which riveted the world’s attention.
Pollsters in Canada didn't think social media had an impact but we proved them wrong during the anti-prorogation rallies. And cell phone images, videos and tweets revealed the police brutality at the G-20 in Toronto. Mainstream media had better get with the program or they are going to lose their voice in the same way that we once lost our voice. No one will be listening.
But they are sure listening now.
According to ABC News: Social Media Fuels Protests in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen
I cancelled my local paper (Sun Media) and rarely watch Canadian news shows (about 2 minutes a month is all I can handle). Too much spin and too little substance.