The Internet’s become a new battle ground – of ideas, approaches, interests. Much like the physical world. Now we’re at war. Cyberspace war.
On the one end there are traditional institutional powers – large corporations and governments while on the other there are the newly established powers – hackers, online movements, socially empowered groups. So if the Internet presented power to the latter –they, all of a sudden, had space for free and efficient communication and coordination, this might not be case anymore.
In 12 months, USA has collectively spent more than 1,284 years reading about Donald Trump on social media.
Illistration by Matt Murph
Not to mention the world.
Now, politics was always a dinner table discussion but with social media, the conversation has spread over an everlasting global feast.
Currently the Republican presidential candidate’s online presence in so unprecedented, that if we were to translate his reach in ads, it would cost him $380 million to achieve that through traditional marketing tools.
And frankly, this would only be a rough interpretation of social media. It doesn’t even begin to cover engagement, conversation, discussion, the 24/7 cycle, a direct pipeline into mainstream media.
We no longer remember important events by dates or names, for that matter, but rather hastags. From #BlackLivesMatter to #JeSuisCharlie, social media has invited us to get involved in causes near and far. We choose the faction and unleash our social media gestures, engage, support.
On January 7, 2015 the viral cry of the moment was Je Suis Charlie or “I am Charlie”, a response to the attack on satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 killed and another 11 injured.
When a bomb went off in Boston three years ago, I was just going in for a class. It was a Monday. I did journalism at the university and my usual routine would be to browse through the pages of the online newspapers, but the headlines suggested a fairly standard start of the week. So I felt in the loop.
Then when there were some talks of a bomb going off. Me, the in the loop journalism student, felt quit sceptical about the rumours. No sign of it in traditional media, not credible enough.
When the Guy Fawkes’ mask made an appearance in the iconic V for Vendetta more than a decade ago, who could have known it would be borrowed to become the face of a movement against the overt censorship of politics. The Anonymous.
“We are meeting at 22:30 under the Monument of Independence. Dress warm, bring umbrellas, tea, coffee, good mood and friends. Reposts are highly encouraged.”
This, at first sight, innocent Facebook post by Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem (November 21, 2013) was the start of the country’s self-organised uprising.
This was hardly the first example of a revolution to have a life of its own online. Social media by 2013 had already stood its ground as an influential tool in major issues. The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Iranian Elections had all happened before this.
And nor will it be the last example of social media empowerment.
Twitter is the medium of the moment. Very quick and free, it’s built to spread. It’s about communication and although it might have been intended in simply private contexts initially, in the networked, surreally flattened world of social media, private and global aren’t as far apart as they might have previously been. What began as the numerous networking platform, was suddenly put in much more serious uses.
After the election in Iran in 2009, cries of protest from supporters of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi began to arise on multiple platforms, but the loudest ones were heard in a medium that didn’t even exist the last time Iran had an election.