Revolutions don’t just happen in a flick. Revolution occurs when the anger of the pain of persons aggregate and turn to fiery passion to disrespect the status quo even at the daggers of death. There were times it came with relentless planning, hierarchy and organizational structures but nowadays all we have are splinters of nodes scattered across the web. In all revolution, the brakes are thrown out of the window and everyone is in for a drive into a destination of unknowns. The cause and desired change is known but what will happen or the possible afterwards is left to factors of unknowns.
When the social network was being developed, all Zuckerberg and friends wanted were people who could create unlimited connections and share thoughts, memories, places, events and many more. Little had the inventors in the halls of Harvard did understand an undertone of social inequality and huge oppression that lies under the societal fabric. The frame of autocratic regimes was sagging but no one in midst of effective state oppression can aggregate people to challenge some political authority. Now interactions across the web plotted on the social graph are the ignitions restarting global political orders. It is a buzzing movement that might topple kingdoms and fiefdom and destroy the myth around autocrats. Such revolutions will hasten the works of death- the only ageless change agent that toppled sit-tight leaders with ease. In the destination of unknowns, Ben Ali of Tunisia had the first dose and for the likes of 82 year old Mubarak, Yemenis and possibly Libyans and Syrians, the new wave is sweeping by the virtual connect.
Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that the revolution will not be televised neither will be tweeted. The best-selling author clearly debunked the impact of social media tools in driving systemic social change, comparing their uncoordinated connections to the organizational strategies of the 1960s civil rights movement. He concludes that social media promote social ‘weak ties’ and cannot motivate people to take risks, such as imprisonment or attack, for social change. Now with Egypt and Tunisia, the world has it right that people with wider connections online can realign their interest for societal change. Malcolm will be wrong because revolutions have never been founded by neighbours or families but people who see change through the same prism. revolutions are about people and since the social network unlike telephone and newsprints are the latest tools of seamless communications, it will continually aid actions of social change.
It’s a web founded on openness and expression across borders and to close down the digital space by despots to isolate the activists is more threatening. The wave of the revolution is already in flames in people hearts and such online access denial makes the fire more intense. It’s a new check on the world that as more people find expression online, they will find it easier to spur mass actions and challenge the status quo.
For Africa and Arabs, it’s time to rethink governance and succession strategy. A continent can’t continue with likes of Mubarak (30 years), Omar El-Bashir (21 years), Museveni (25 years), Mugabe (31 years) and many examples of the past. It might be better to box people in a wall without global online interactions and keep them in bondage possibly for ever but as loose opportunities of social connect begin; it might be a new yardstick of governance and accountability. Beyond sit tight leaders, there will also be revolt against establishment and political caucuses in the future. That’s why the likes of PDP –acclaimed election riggers- in Nigeria who live 50 year reign fantasy have to rethink and reform before mass action activated by digital evangelists. Revolutions are the wake from slumber or inaction, docility to energetic change in the height of gross inequality. It is newly led by rookie protesters against people and establishments who aim to extinguish the essence of life.
Facebook or Twitter may soon be winners of Nobel Peace Prize, don’t doubt it. The reason- while it all started in people hearts without a structure, strategy or clear leader but defined sense of change, the social network was the totemic platform.