New World Order & New Media Order
The 1970’s counter-cultural poem “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” couldn’t be further from the truth today, as we see governments shutting down social media outlets. “The Great Lie” is harder to maintain than ever before, as self-created content via social media has spread to the Middle East and worldwide. While President Mubarak and many throughout the Arab world have ruled with a strong fist, I am sure that never did he dream that the biggest threat to his rule- and possibly an actual overthrow – would come through a simple technology that people entertain themselves with, through 140-character messages.
Jan 25, 2011 is likely to be remembered as the day commemorating the start of the modern Egyptian revolt led by the Internet. Many will also note that Egypt decided as an early measure to entirely disable both the internet and the wireless services implying our era’s “mouths-shutting” altering basic freedoms of expression in Egypt. In Tunisia, Social media was also found to be the main medium for anti-government forces to mobilize, inform, and communicate with one another.
So, whereas state run media in countries like these could previously propagandize to the people messages they saw fit, today social media is a mass communications tool whereby each citizen is a journalist, giving true rise to the title and concept of citizen journalism. This of course comes on the heels of Wikileaks’ whereby countries spent several days in sheer anxiety before each release. The unprecedented phenomenon causing undisclosed records to reach the public amass stirred diplomatic chaos worldwide.
Political philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and John Locke addressed the issue of a government’s responsibility towards its people, and social media allows people to force government to face their version of truth, whether they like it or not. New media today will result in the open – We see images today of protestors with hand held cameras surely for Youtube, and we remember the images a few months ago of the protests in Iran – Similar visuals only 30 years ago which would have very likely never reached the Western World.
The ‘truth’ is now in the open; exposed and accessible to people instantly and vertically across most of the world. The impact – is something we are currently witnessing. Lies and manipulations must be handled differently by dictators with this degree of transparency. It takes one person with a mobile phone to start a revolution, one network on Facebook to mobilize friends and contacts around a cause, and only 140 characters to start the process of expelling a dictator from Tunisia.
Social media has shown its potential with the simplicity of online and wireless access by individuals with passion, energy, and a just cause. While it is still uncertain whether Egyptian youngsters will achieve their end goals, the young have not disappointed as they have moved quickly and unhesitatingly to form nothing less than a ‘New World Order’ – utilizing new media. Perhaps state run media in many countries will also follow the lead of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who joined Twitter a few months ago, and invited Cuban head Fidel Castro to join him on Twitter. He had previously called Twitter a potential “tool of terror” – but maybe he has realized that it can be used as his tool of terror.
China, Syria, Iran and other South American countries are working to limit the access their people have to online media outlets, they know that if they want to protect themselves, they need to limit the use of these platforms, or learn how to harness social media tools themselves.
Ronn Torossian is president and CEO of 5WPR, one of the 20 largest independent PR agencies in the U.S. Named to the “40 under 40″ list of PR Week & Advertising Age, Torossian was a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and may be reached atRtorossian@5wpr.com and followed on twitter @rtorossian5wpr