A dear friend of mine wrote the following piece about the power of social media in the recent Egyptian revolution. It generates some interesting questions about the viability of non-violence in our modern world. My cut? Ghandi would definitely have Twittered!
"EIGHTEEN DAYS OF TWITTER" By: Alice Hill, CEO Sunflower Business Consulting http://www.sunflowerbusinessconsulting.com/
People smarter than me and closer to the subject than me will write more eloquently and thoroughly about the change in power in Egypt this week. I am US born citizen with no ties to Egypt. I am not an Egyptian student, and (compliments of Rosetta Stone; a gift from my husband for my birthday a year ago to 'learn something new'), now speak and understand only the most fundamental words and phrases of the Arabic language.
Maybe because I know just enough Arabic to be able to read the headlines and understand a few words in passing, the Egypyian uprising quickly became an all-consuming interest for me.
I watched with rapt fascination as the 'twitter war' raged. No guns, no knives, virtually no weapons of any kind, other than the weapon of unity and numbers. Egyptians fighting for freedom came out in droves. They marched. They blocked tanks. They chanted for freedom. And they tweeted. Boy did they tweet. And posted to blogs and facebook and many other social media.
And yesterday, after 18 days of peaceful protest, without a named protest leader, but rather with a protest movement, led by like-minded Egyptians, the 30 year old Egyptian regime fell. Virtually without bloodshed, without rapes and murders and wars of violence. The regime changed because the people of Egypt were able to rally together, find each other, make plans, and execute plans - largely through Twitter. Can you believe that? A largely non-violent war, fought and won using Twitter as the foundation for planning and communication. There absolutely MUST be a message for us in these actions. The Egyptians have achieved what we all proport to want; a way to change the course of government without war. In the US, our constitution guarantees us the venue every four years for change within our own government. But what can we learn, in the US and elsewhere on the planet, about uniting and planning and changing the course of the future, without bloodshed?
Twitter and other social media were the absolute backbone for change in Egypt. You can support it or be against it or frankly, not even care. But you need to acknowledge that with a social media power-engine, change can now occur faster, more efficiently, and more peacefully. The magnitude of this social media power-engine can't be overstated; not unlike how the disposition of the US railroad made supplies from the North possible during the Civil War or how nuclear weapons changed the course of WWII and beyond.
If you doubted the power of social media, the events and outcomes of the past 18 days need to stop you in your tracks and make you think. If Twitter allowed a change of this magnitude in these past 18 days, how can social media be used for you, your family, your business - to promote security, or to put you in harm's way.
Do not overlook this medium. Life is different now.
And to the people of Egypt, I say (humbly, as it doesn't translate exactly): Va-Ssalam-o-Alai-kom. I wish you well.