How often do you break the rules? How often are you the person to stand up against something everyone knows is absurd?
People are standing up to fight wrongdoing:
- Birkan Isin saved an Istanbul park from destruction and sparked Turkey’s mass protests
- Snowden gut checked the NSA and lit a worldwide discussion on the future of Internet privacy
- Ai Wewei continues to expose the flaws of “Chinese democracy” through his art
All it takes is one person to stand up and point out obvious injustices. A practical cause quickly creates awareness and widespread advocacy.
Everyone knows what’s right but is afraid to speak up or act. Racial segregtation would’ve persisted if Rosa Parks simply gave up her seat.
Rebellion is sometimes pragmatic, not a threat against the rules but a chance to question them and clean them up. But it takes balls to be the one to rise and light that fire. Risk can be life-threatening. So is inaction.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Social media is like water, a flow of freely democratic voice produced and consumed whenever, wherever. Social is what we’ve been doing forever as humans just amplified now because everyone’s got a mic, a computerized phone in their hand.
Some governments disdain Internet conversation for obvious reasons. They’re afraid of false rumors which lead to unnecessary disruption. Yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed sharp criticism:
“There is now a menace which is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
What government officials generally overlook is that online tribes mimic real life sentiment. The Internet and social media are just tools for better organizing public opinion.
Sure, garrulous rumors spread and threats get exaggerated on Twitter but an equal number of people with more moderate, fact checked opinions balance out the conversation.
Twitter is hands down the most powerful social media tool. Facebook is still by and large a private network. It took a few years but people are finally accustomed to sharing their information with the world on Twitter.
In fact, there were 3k tweets per minute about Turkey this weekend, 90% originating in Turkey itself. Fear is staying silent. The invisible are the ones really hiding something.
Turkey is at the crossroads between modernity and traditional ways of life. And social media is checking its temperature. Unless Erdorgan sees Twitter as added value, he’ll face long-lasting rebuke. It may even see the end of his rule.
Check out the photoset from the #OccupyGezi crowd yesterday at Zucotti Park, NYC.
Special thanks to Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa for the supportive tweet.