Social Media Is The New Voice Of Dissent: But Is The Effect Desired?

Dissent is a powerful concept and something that most democratic Governments are supposed to recognize. Every citizen of a nation or a state has the right to protest against something that is perceived to be against their interest. But this constitutional principle was hard to leverage before the advent of the Internet. No matter how much mainstream media denies censorship, there are media blackouts from time to time and this does not serve the purpose of organizing and collaborating with fellow protesters.

This is where Social Media steps in today for protesters. Much has been tweeted and blogged about the events of last year pertaining to the Arab Spring Revolution. Social Media was the key to starting up, collaborating and organizing successful these protests.

Citizen journalism was not a much unexplored concept before social media arrived. Now everyone is a journalist and has the potential to report on events as and when they happen. All it takes is a mobile phone connected to the Internet. This throws away the long held belief that only a seasoned journalist or reporter can cover breaking news. This is also important to breakdown the occasional bias that media journalists and broadcasters may tend to have.

Uzma Falak, a scholar at JMI, was quoted as saying in an NDTV Gadgets article on an Internet seminar at Jamia Millia Islamia saying, “When the Kashmir government clamped down on local media during the 2010 uprisings, internet provided a platform for the citizen journalists, with tech-savvy youngsters uploading and sharing videos and pictures when journalists could not report. Although the stealthily shot videos of security forces damaging vehicles and property during the curfew didn’t find place in Indian media, they were widely circulated on internet”.

“The internet facilitated a space for dissent, expressing solidarity, registering protest, mobilisation and shaping of political discourse. It corresponded with the global phenomenon where several Middle Eastern countries witnessed massive unrests, believed to be fuelled by social media,” she added.

More Indian protest campaigns include Pink Chaddi and India Against Corruption. Both protests are radically different but were taken up religiously by their individual supporters on social media. Most people understand that we are on a cusp of a revolution culturally and in the proper use of Social media, lies our future. Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party in Sweden is of the view that today’s accepted laws like Labour Laws, Environmental laws and even Democracy are the results of successful protests in recent human history. It’s as simple as that.

Social Media makes visibility of dissent easy and helps likeminded individuals to join the movement. In effect, this is the most open kind of democracy there is. Something that our Governments has not utilized before but are slowly being forced to.

Social Media is not all about looking at funny stuff on the Internet, it is the connection to source of Human Knowledge, a not-so-creepy ‘hive mind’ if I have to make an analogy.

What are your thoughts on this? Share your experience with us.


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