NWR Issue 102

Tweetin' 'Bout A Revolution

In Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere*, Paul Mason describes a meeting with activists from the student, ecology and Palestinian rights movements. Why was revolt going global? they asked. Was it down to economics, technology, rapid social change? Mason inclined to ‘a technological-determinist explanation’ centred on the Internet and social media. The fact that his audience was tweeting the discussion seemed to him to confirm this.

Western media have fetishised the impact of social media on social revolt, from the London riots to the Egyptian revolutions. In the riots they focused on the Blackberry’s encrypted messages and the so-called ‘Facebook rioters’. For Peter Beaumont, the defining image of the Middle East uprisings was a young person with a smartphone**. This perspective undermined any notion of agency in Arab societies, instead attributing revolt to superior Western technologies...

* Paul Mason, Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions (London, Verso, 2013).
** Peter Beaumont, ‘The Truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab World’ The Guardian, 25 February 2011.

Tim Evans is a journalist and blogger. His blog can be found at Workingman’s Blues and Tim tweets @llanelli_riots


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