Constantly connected, constantly communicating, constantly being fed information…this is our life. It never ends.
Here are a couple recent examples of how this flow of content has impacted the world of social reform…
There has been non-stop coverage over the last couple weeks about the heated protesting in Egypt. One of the stories to come out of this conflict was how the Egyptian government pulled the plug on internet and cell service to the entire country. These outlets were being used to organize protests against the dictatorship government. It did not approve of this protesting, so it shut down communication in an attempt to hinder protest organizers. That move ultimately did not work, but that is not my point.
My point is that this story demonstrates how, the relatively new tools of social networking and cell phone communication, can be used in organizing reform. The protesters in Egypt saw these tools as a way to quickly and effectively organize mass demonstrations. The demonstrations and protests have had a major impact in the country, and will definitely fuel some kind of political restructuring. Related to this story, the Chinese government is currently blocking news feeds of what is happening in Egypt on their internet and twitter equivalent, so that the Chinese people don’t get any ideas.
The protesters in Egypt are trying to create a more democratic and peaceful government, but there methods are not always peaceful as you can see from this video. Either way though, social media played a big roll in the organization of these protests, whether for better or for worse.
I conducted an interview with Dr. Cyndi Romine last Friday. She said her work as a rescuer of sex trafficking victims in the Philippines requires endless communication via cell phones and social networking. Just as traffickers use social networking to locate potential victims, she uses it to locate potential rescues. It is an effective and speedy way for her to organize networks of people all over the world.
She also uses these tools to communicate directly with girls that she is attempting to rescue. She told me a story of how 7 underage girls were recently rescued by her organization in Manila. For this particular rescue, she was sitting in her home office in suburban Vancouver, WA. Through text messaging she coordinated a team of rescuers, in a van, in the Philippines, to infiltrate a prostitution ring. Simultaneously, she sent directions via text to the girls being rescued, telling them how to locate the van and escape their entrapment. She completely changed their lives with her thumbs, a pink Blackberry, and a few 140 character messages.
There you have it…the power of communication.