Is Social Media helping the Arab World?

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Social Media has been ushering its power and has been in the news for lots of reasons. Mischief’s, felony to solving cases, the Facebook IPO debacle, Security/Privacy issues etc, Social Media has been interacting with our lives in different ways and mediums. Last Year Social Media successfully helped in ending the long term autocratic rules in Middle Eastern countries. But the question is, is Social Media helping the Arab World?

Questions are plentiful  and one of them which comes first is - how Social Media (a virtual world) changed situations on the ground. Well,  one  of the biggest advantages of Facebook or Twitter or any Social media tool is the ability to connect to people.  This is a simple psychological process. Our elders used a phone or letter to connect to friends or relatives but we today rely on the Social Media tool to share our joy and connect with well wishers.  The addiction in some people is so severe that Social Media takes priority over other important things.

For instance if  you are following the US presidential elections closely either through your TV set or through the Web, then where do you find the most interactive population? I personally feel it is the lively audience of the Social Media Platforms that make the discussion more interesting, rather than just sitting in a room in front of the TV and murmuring your feelings. At last Social Media power has been so strong  that corporations  across the World are embracing it. Though others are scared of it, while some filter the contents based on their need.

Soldiers of Social Media are not using any bomb, gun or physical object as a tool. The combined arsenal of the internet, satellite communications and mobile phones have been used effectively by Social Media activists in the Arab world uprising. The revolutions in the Middle East used the biggest strength of Social Media i.e. mobilizing support and promoting rapid interaction for a common cause.  Support was gathered, tricks on handling on security forces were sent, and meeting location maps were shared. All these strategies effectively put the government on the back foot. The autocratic Arab governments tried to block the social-networking sites to remove the brutal images of repression of the protests which had spread like wildfire. The Government strategy backfired and sympathizers watched events on their computers and televisions and joined demonstrators to oust the governments.

 

The debate on Social Media recently ignited again, after the recent Youtube video against Islam led to the killing of a top US diplomat. Some countries are questioning the freedom of speech in democratic countries.   Unfortunately the people who question this are those who probably have never tasted it or are trying to gain votes by making statements. Though the debate on the freedom of speech and democracy have been waged by some countries, they cannot deny the role  that Social Media has played  in spreading the message and gathering support. Despite all these  positive things there are disadvantages too. There are a lot of issues such as destruction of public property, loss of innocent life, no control on the spread of messages, converting virtual support to results on the ground etc.

 

To conclude, Social Media is a two faced coin. Each side has its own pros and cons. In other words most things have a good part and bad part. It is difficult to ban somebody from using Social Media but there should be an attempt to build thoughts along the right direction so that Social Media benefits the most rather than doing the reverse. Which side are you on?