Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The revolution will be texted

While we in the US are debating the negative physical and emotional effects of text messaging and Internet-based social-networking sites, these modes of communication just may be the unstoppable weapons that help people break free of oppressive governments around the world.

I personally have Luddite tendencies (at least philosophically; practically speaking, my refusal to get an iPod is a rather weak line in the sand) and I join the chorus of those decrying the ubiquity of young people constantly texting (even while behind the wheel) or of the seeming foolishness of following anyone's every move on Twitter. However, this week's upheaval in Iran over the apparently stolen presidential election seems to be fueled by high-tech communication, despite the emabttled government's attempts to cut off those connections.

In China, where the totalitarian regime succeeded recently in keeping public demonstrations to a minimum during the days that marked the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre (to end mass public gatherings that happened without the help of texting or the Internet), modern communication resources are used to spread stories of the corruption of local government officials. The Communist Party's massive efforts at controlling information is less than perfect.

So it seems that our rapidly developing communication technologies have a big upside for those who have lived under the cloak of oppressive governments, and it appears to be just a matter of time before newer and less-controllable modes of information-spreading completely tip the balance. In this regard these devices are the printing presses of the 21st Century, and I'll try to remember that the next time someone talking on a cell phone almost runs me over.

1 comment:

N.starluna said...

I don't subscribe to Twitter but it is interesting to see how much it is contributing to democracy and helping to decentralize information gathering.

Something tells me that here in the U.S., the idiot driver paying more attention to their cell phone conversation is probably not talking about anything as important as the folks in Iran are right now.