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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Social Networks – Mouthpiece of the 21st Century

This is the Illuminati article for the month of August

Illuminati Aug11

In the last decade or so Social Networking has been a buzzword for all the tech-savvy 21st century netizens. The rise of websites like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogger and Twitter has been rampant and they have contributed quite considerably in shrinking the World a bit more. Even businesses and social organisations understand the importance of having a strong presence in the Social media. Social Networking, in a way has created a parallel world in itself which is much smaller and more connected which considerably affects the state of the affairs in our real world. Online friends, online dating and even online job opportunities are now a significant part of people’s lives.

Below I state few instances where Social Networking has acted as a mouthpiece.

What’s on your mind in virtual reality?

We all have our virtual realities. Stuff we seem not to do in real life but are quite known for in our virtual avatars. We speak our minds and describe incidents which decide our credibility and acceptance. It gives a sort of channel for speaking our innermost mind to the world. There are twitter handles which prove my point. Be it the sarcastic ex-Samsung employee and current Symbiosis MBA grad @GabbbarSingh or the hilarious Pagal Patrakar of @fakingnews, their virtual avatars have been very influencing in creating humour and entertaining people in twitter. Regardless of their offline influence, their online influence have made them influential mouthpieces in Social Networking

Apart from being an escape from our real lives, recent events have exposed a new dimension of the Social Networking paradigm. Social Networking has now played a new and successful role of becoming a mouthpiece of the people. Recent examples like the revolution in Egypt, or the rise of the Indian public against corruption has been fuelled by information sharing via social networks.

Social Networks and the Egyptian Revolution of 2011

It all began to be understood with the beginning the Egyptian revolution against their now imprisoned and on-trial former President Hoshni Mubarak. A 30 year old Regional Product & Marketing Manager of Google Egypt,  Wael Ghonim started it all by opening a Facebook page "We Are All Khaled Said," which got enormous “likes” and people started posting their disgust on the Mubarak regime. He was later arrested and upon mounting International pressure was subsequently released after 11 days. He became a champion of Egyptian revolution after his speech at the Tahrir Square which later became a symbol of the revolution. He used his twitter handle @ghonim to organise protests and inform regarding activities. He became the face of the Egyptians triumph over tyranny through social networking.

A voice that ushered in a social revolution in Egypt -- where the most powerful weapon -- was social networking.

Social Networks and India Against Corruption (The Anna Hazare fast)

India’s history of non-violent Social Revolutions have been always been a source of pride for us Indians and a point of admiration for the rest of the world. Be it Mahatma Gandhi’s fight against the British before 1947 or Jayprakash Narayan’s fight against Indira Gandhi during the Emergency days of the 1970s, social revolutions have be a strength of our Democracy.

Anna Hazare took this to a whole new level with his anti-corruption crusade. His India Against Corruption used Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as effective propaganda tools and spun-weave a mass movement whose magnanimity  left even political parties mouths wide open.

A dedicated team of information technology experts from Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), which acted as a secretariat for India Against Corruption (IAC), were running IAC's main website along with 14 city-centric websites round the clock. They were also required to monitor television channels and post relevant videos on the internet for creating a buzz across the globe. Another team ensured that latest information about Hazare, soon after he was arrested, was posted on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

And the response was overwhelming, 3.64 lakh 'likes' on Facebook and over two lakh followers on Twitter. “#isupportannahazare, Kiran Bedi, The Govt, Shanti Bhushan, and Tihar Jail” where trending for all the 11 days of protest. Hazare's video recorded in Tihar jail, last checked,  has nearly 1.6 lakh views on video-streaming website YouTube. @janlokpal, the twitter handle of IAC and #janlokpal hashtag where seen all around twitter in those 2 weeks.

Citing these two examples, I am pretty much satisfied to put forward my point that in today’s world, an effect mass movement can be properly organised by using the online resources as propaganda tools.

As a mouthpiece of the Government

Also, apart from political movements, Social Networking has been giving Governance a renewed connection with the people. Many Heads of State and Government, many Senators and MPs across the Globe have take the path of tweeting and Facebook to be in touch with the citizens of their country. Almost every department of the United States Government, including the White House have their own twitter handles and Facebook pages. Very recently the British Monarchy launched their Facebook page where Her Majesty’s family events and appearances are shown to people. So it’s not only a communicating mouthpiece from the citizens to their Governments, it is also an effective channels the other way around

To conclude, I would state that no one amongst us can escape from the Social Networking wave sweeping across the 21st century. The future will only integrate Social Networking and virtual realities more into our real lives.

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