Social Media and the Arab Spring

It has being a phenomenon in most countries  including those in the middle east for armed soldiers to guard the national Radio and Television buildings apparently to protect the country’s formidable broadcast assets from being commandeered in an attempted revolutions or mutiny. However, this well secured institutions are no longer the prime medium to express or disseminate information. The Internet in particular opens a new communications channel, both in terms of accessing other peoples’ ideas and in terms of individual expression. Social media came to be used to generate awareness campaigns of many types, by individuals, organizations, movements, and even governments. The influence of the social media came to display  during the Arab Spring, allowing crowd sourcing, coordination of large-scale protests, scheduling demonstrations through  Facebook messages and globally communicating up-to-the-minute updates through Twitter.

The advent of the social media breaks the psychological barrier of fear by helping many to connect and share information. It gives most people in the Arab world the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are others experiencing just as much brutality, hardships, and lack of justice. Perhaps nowhere have the attempts to use social media to promote the principles of democracy in new ways been more visible than in Tunisia and Egypt, where Facebook and Twitter have been used to quickly disseminate information and instructions that the government has not been able to control. Some believe that the new social media have created a new process for revolution. The process begins when someone establishes a page on Facebook, which is seen by various users, who then comment on it and begin interacting with each other. Once the group is solidified, users begin posting pictures, video footage, and links to YouTube. As this happens, news and comments also begins to appear on Twitter, ever expanding the network of people who are linked in to debates about these events and images. Since the network is not limited geographically, the scope can quickly become global. While this process can be promising in terms of reaching large numbers of people very quickly and creating instantaneous reactions, it also carries the inherent danger of being used to perpetuate sectarianism, tribalism, regionalism, racism, sexism, and discrimination through the proliferation of extremist. It must be recalled that Facebook is not the private domain of enlightened values or democratic ideals. The reality of an open source is that it is open to everyone and anyone who cares to access and comment on it, whether constructively or destructively. Thus, there is the potential for both democratic change and retrograde reactionism that can have serious political and economic repercussions, and for both building and fracturing social cohesion.

It is estimated that more than 3 million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content and thousands of blog posts, were recorded during the Arab Spring.  Conversations about revolution often precedes major events, and social media has carried inspiring stories of protest across international borders. evidence suggests that social media carried a cascade of messages about freedom and democracy across North Africa and the Middle East, and helped raise expectations for the success of political uprising, like Philip Howard, the project leader and an associate professor in communication at the University of Washington put it “People who shared interest in democracy built extensive social networks and organized political action. Social media became a critical part of the toolkit for greater freedom.”

During the week before Egyptian president Hosni Mubaraks resignation, for example, the total rate of tweets from Egypt and around the world about political change in that country ballooned from 2,300 a day to 230,000 a day.  Videos featuring protest and political commentary went viral, the top 23 videos received nearly 5.5 million views. The amount of content produced online by opposition groups, in Facebook and political blogs, increases dramatically.

“Twitter offers us the clearest evidence of where individuals engaging in democratic conversations were located during the revolutions,” Howard said.  Twitter provides a window into the broader world of digital conversations, many of which probably involved cell phones to send text, pictures or voice messages, he said.  In Tunisia, for example, less than 20 percent of the population uses social media, but almost everyone has access to a mobile phone. The outcomes of the revolutions in the middle east has brought down dictatorial governments out of power in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

Social media has come to stay. The phenomenon can only get bigger and better. Regimes should be more concerned with how to exploit this media positively in governance rather than seeing it as a weapon in the hands of the people they govern. If leaders are transparent and honest they should not be afraid of the social media. An attempt to gag people is only a prelude to anarchy which could culminate in a violent revolution.

References:

Saleem  Kassim (July 3, 2012). Twitter revolution how the Arab spring was helped by social media. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.policymic.com

Catherine O’Donnell (September 12, 2011). New study quantifies use of social media in Arab Spring. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.washington.edu

Ramesh Srinivasan (October 29 2012). Taking power through technology in the Arab Spring. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.aljazeera.com

Positive Influence of Social Media to Society

The fastest growing innovation of recent years is the social media; it spreads like bushfire in the summer. The power of social media shouldn’t be underestimated taking into consideration recent developments around the world, the social media serves as major instrument in galvanizing and spreading information to members of the public. Most people today use the social media to accomplish one or more things such as communication, self promotion or marketing, entertainment and socialization. Antagonists might focus greatly on the negative aspect of the social media ignoring the uncountable benefits enjoyed globally in a diverse world that we live; social media has become a single unifier that bridges the gap between religion, race, ethnic and cultural difference among the people. Instead of giving more attention to social media pitfalls, it’s worthy to reflect on it influence to transform society for the better.

Through technological advancement, news and relevant information is made easily accessible to users and the public via social media platforms which has resulted in the revelation of many hidden information. A typical example is the recent ban on Tweeter in Turkey, according to The New York Times Ceylan Yeginsu “The Turkish government unblocked Twitter on Thursday April 3rd 2014, a day after the country’s highest court ruled that the two-week ban on the social media site violated freedom of expression.”  This comes as a result of a circulation of leaked recordings implicating the President and his members of corruption allegations.

The social media serves as a forum for support and safety during crisis. There have been several disasters where the only available means of communication is through the social media. Government agencies, relief organizations and victims disseminate information via the social media to affected individuals or communities. For example during super storm Sandy that resulted in blackout, most people uses Facebook and whatsapp to assure their family members of their safety. Also during the Japan Fukushima disaster, Tweitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Skype plays vital role in responding to the people caught up in that disaster and others wanting to help shares dramatic, unfiltered audio and text reports before government or other traditional media can do so.

The social media has become a valuable source for background check. Many employers search their employees through Facebook and Linkedin to obtain vital information on their personality, the type of friends they hang out with as the saying goes “show your friend, I will tell who you are.”  This concept has helped many to tailor their behavior and present themselves in a more appropriate way. It also helps security agencies to track criminals or gang related crimes on social media networks.

Social media serves as an eye opener and a form of political influence. Recently, a wave of violence erupted in the Middle East leading to regime changes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The major platform of information dissemination was Facebook and Tweeter, with such powerful tool that bring people of every sector together gives a true voice to the voiceless and forces governments to listen to their populace.

There is no doubt that society has been transformed in better ways through social media by information dissemination, support during crisis, source for background check and given voice to the voiceless in order to influence political change.

The role of Corporations to Consumer safety and Product standards

Innovations and inventions has become part of corporations in order to get an edge in a competitive market with little or no regard to consumer safety, product quality and standards.

The safety concerns exhibited by FeedTech Corp in the M.T Anderson Feed text is a gross example. Although the text is base on imaginary world but the reality is that consumers face such safety concerns in their everyday transactions. The claims of safety and product standards could be noted from the words of Violet. She said

“I lost a year. During the seizure. I can’t remember anything from the year before I got the feed”

Another point of claim is according to Violet’s dad “We Americans” he said, “are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in in how they were produced, or what happens to them.”

Finally the response received from FeedTech after the petition threw me away when Nina said, “I’m here to inform you that FeedTech Corp has decided to turn down your petition for complimentary feed repair and/or replacement.”

I intend looking at consumer safety and product standards by corporations. Are corporations actually serious about the safety of those that maintains their being into business and why should Violet left to suffer? What happen to those without the feed? And what will happen if the feed is removed once fixed? These are some of the unanswered questions, I intend to focus on.

 

Realities of Imaginary Concept in our World Today

Part 4 (slumberland )of the Feed text, Titus meets  Violet’s father at the hospital and he is shown a place to monitor Violet feed efficiency with range of percentile indicators like 98% for a normal person and below 98% for abnormality . As a result of the malfunction of Violet’s feed, she loses a year of her memories prior to it installation. This gives her the urge to write down most of the things she remembers and sends it to Titus to avoid another memory erase.  Violet encounters uncountable health problems that a lead to most of her body parts comes to a halt. Consequently, Violet and her father petition FeedTech for free repairs. In response to the petition, FeedTech refuses to give any assistance to Violet citing her strange customer profile brought about by resisting the feed. The health of Violet keeps deteriorating and the book ends with commercial blue jean warehouse sales that end with “Everything must go.”

The futuristic concept presented by M.T Anderson might sound unattainable but judging by history, one could say anything is possible especially the trend at which technology advances.  It is factual that the circumstances surrounding the world of commerce we live in today is complicated; corporations are on the rise with a primary objective of making profit at the expense of consumer safety and protection. Online shopping has become the preferred method for many because it allows comparing and contrasting various products from different corporations, lookup reviews from previous consumers before making a decision to buy or not. The advent of the internet and cell phones reduces the barriers between consumers and corporation, most corporations as a result of competition and lack of monopoly regards their consumers as kings or queens, unlike the FeedTech Nina who said “I’m here to inform you that FeedTech Corp has decided to turn down your petition for complimentary feed repair and/or replacement” at a time Violet health deteriorates, such corporations should only exist in utopia.

Inventions and innovations by corporations are presented everyday in strive to be at the edge of the competitive market. Like Anderson abstract Upcar vehicle in the Feed text, Amazon has revealed the Amazon Prime Air vehicle. It structural makeup seems like the Upcar technology but unmanned. According to Amazon, the goal is to get packages into customers’ hands within 3o minutes. The commercialization of the Prime Air vehicle awaits Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to complete the necessary safety rules and regulation which might take some years to complete. In essence, we won’t be flying like Titus and Violet, going to the moon or mall but the Prime Air Vehicles will be seen as normal as seeing mail trucks today, delivering our packages within the shortest possible time.

In relation to safety and standards as said by Violet’s father “We Americans, he said, are interested only in the consupmption of our products, We have no interest in how they were produced, or what happens to them” corporations have a lot of unanswered questions regarding consumer safety and product standards despite the immense advancement of technology in global market. Like Violet, there are a lot of people suffering health conditions as a result of poor product standards and consumer safety. Recently, some part of my country, Sierra Leone suffers erosion, loss of biodiversity and soil contamination as a result of kimberlite mining by corporations. The local of those areas suffers tremendous health problems and famine. Another visible area of lack of consumer safety and standardize product quality can be seen on today’s polluted market. Toyota Motor Corporation a Japanese auto maker recalls about 1.9 million cars sold between 2010 and 2014 to fix a software glitch that could cause the car to stall. Unlike FeedTech that produces chips for consumers without any plans to safety and standards, Toyota strives to ensure safety and high quality product for their consumers.

The imaginary world of M.T Anderson might appear far from fetch; however, since 2001 when the text was written a lot has happened and a lot continue to happen in technology, government and social conditions. With proposed projects by various Tech firms including the Amazon Prime Air vehicle, we won’t fly city to city but our packages are expected to reach us in the quickest and safest way on unmanned drones. Also it might sound weird to have chips installed on us but the possibilities for assigning IP address to every product manufactured is fast coming into play. This helps to locate the devices where ever they might be.  I perceives technology taking over the world like the world of  Feed in the moon where everything happens like a dream.

 

Feed

Utopia, part 3 of “feed”, Titus acknowledges that things are normal after the hacking and hospital. Few days later, Titus went out on errands and met Violet for the first time after the moon. He picks her up in his father’s upcar to a party at Quendy’s house. Violet was excited to be going to her first real party and feels special. At the party, a lot was going on, friends were chatting and making fun with each other; however, Quendy wasn’t happy with Calista because Calista had her hand around Link and was jealous.

Marty brought in the topic of Coke, everyone was delighted talking about the particular thing they like about coke, Loga said he like the refreshing flavor, Quendy said she likes the regular coke but also the fantastic taste of the Diet Coke, Titus said that he likes Coke due to the energy, then came Violet to say what she likes about Coke, Violet said, “I love the great feeling of Coke’s carbonation going down my throat, all the pain, like….” With lack of words to continue, she appeared funny as the others were looking at her like a stupid person. I think, this could be a manifestation of her lack of exposure which could have been a reason to feel so special and happy with Titus when he asked her to party but without waiting the party to end Violet and Titus left.

Their lives have become customized to the extent that every aspect of it was controlled by corporations. Like Violet said “When you have the feed all your, life you’re brought up to not think about things. Like them never telling you that it’s a republic and not a democracy. It’s something that makes me angry, what people don’t know about these days. Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots. Ignorant, self-centered idiots.” Unlike Titus who thinks that corporations are better than government in managing the people and institutions as they teaches how the world is used and take care of children, Violet was aware of the manipulations carried out by corporations on their actions and behavior and opt to customize her feed on a way that she can be invisible because of her perception of control.  With the feeds there is nothing hidden, you are observed, monitored, your choice and ability to make sound decision is controlled worst of it, when malfunctioned it can be fatal as Violet put it, “Nobody knows. The feed is tied in to everything. Your body control, your emotions, your memory. Everything. Sometimes feed errors are fatal…”

In a Utopian world where everything is imaginary,   yet still there are limitations with the proper functioning of feed which shows that technology is not 100% reliable. There could be breakdowns or coding errors. However, I can imagine a world of that nature where everyone is assigned a unique IP address and networked, knowing directly what runs in the mind of others, I’m convinced, it will reduce if not eliminate criminal activities. With advances in Information Technology and IP address moving from IPV4 to IPV6, pretty soon, every manufactured product including house appliances, vehicles, airplanes and the likes will be assigned an IP address for easy trace.

 

 

Feed

Feed is a novel by M.T. Anderson that talks about Titus, a teenager with the feed implanted into his head. It effectively try to present a future version of reality that seems uncomfortably believable. His take-off of over tolerant consumerism and dependence on technology creates a believable world in which people have internet connections, and feeds implanted in their brains.

In the first chapter, Your Face Is Not an Organ, Titus, the teenage narrator of the novel, and his friends go to the moon to have fun but found that the moon is boring. They go on a Friday to go to the Ricochet Lounge, a low gravity nightclub where they wear space suits and bounce off one another. Besides Titus, his guy friends Link and Marty join him. Three female friends, Calista, Loga and Quendy come along too.

Titus and his friends spend their spring break on the moon, which turns out to “totally suck”. While having fun in a low-gravity bar, Titus meets a girl named Violet Durn and invites her to a party later. At the party, they are all infected with a virus by an anti-feed protester from the Coalition of Pity. They wake up later in a hospital with their feeds shut down.

In the hospital, Titus meets literate and traditionalist Violet and this makes him think about the feed. While she copes with her impending death, she teaches Titus to resist the feed. Titus comes to like Violet, who is clearly different from the rest of his friends. She is far less perturbed by the loss of the feed than the others, and she shows Titus what the world outside the feed is like. They form a relationship in the hospital while they wait for their feeds to be fixed.

Once the feed is fixed and they’re released, things quickly go back to normal. Titus and Violet continue to develop their relationship, and Violet continues to show Titus the negative influence of the feed and the rampant consumerism. Titus rationalizes most of Violet’s arguments away. Violet still manages to convince Titus to help her mess up the data mining that companies do by monitoring consumers’ habits through the feed. For all of one day, they go through as many stores as possible, acting interested in a wide variety of products and services that they never actually buy.

In the novel, majority of the American population has a feed that not only controls their thoughts, but also their bodily functions. The feeds are controlled by large corporations that basically serve as the new government.

Early in the novel, Anderson allude to the idea that people may have a sense that they are being taken advantage of, but no one cares enough to want to leave the comfort of normalcy. The author uses Titus, the narrator, to explain his society’s general apathy toward the overwhelming power that these corporations have over the society when he says, “I mean, it’s not great, because who knows what evil shit they’re up to. Everyone feels bad about that. But they’re the only way to get all this stuff, and it’s no good getting pissy about it, because they’re still going to control everything whether you like it or not.” (48-49).They have let the feed control too much of their lives and now they are slaves to it. It keeps their minds so cluttered with media and advertisements that no one has time to stop and think.

Catfish

Nev chatting with Megan

Nev chatting with Megan

The documentary “Catfish” was produced on August 2007. The characters include Nev Schulman, his siblings’ two filmmakers (Ariel and Henry), Angela and her family (Vince and Abby).

Nev lives in New York City and Abby an eight year old artist in rural Michigan became Facebook friends which broaden to include Abby’s family (Angela, Vince, Megan). Nev begins an online relationship with Megan.

Megan's profile picture

Megan’s Facebook profile picture

She sends him songs she covers but Nev discovers that the songs are all taken from YouTube. Nev and his family friends decide to make an impromptu visit to Michigan. They finally arrive and  were welcome by Angela. In their conversation Angela tells Nev that she had uterine cancer. After a lengthy chat, Angela drives Nev and Ariel to see Abby. While talking with Abby andher friend, Nev learned that Abby never sees her sister and wasn’t a painter either, a day after Nev received a text message from Megan saying that she has had a long-standing alcohol problem and cannot meet him because she has decided to check into

Nev and his two siblings on their way to Michigan

Nev and his two siblings on their way to Michigan

rehab. This was confirmed by another facebook friend but Nev realizes that this is likely another lie from Angela. After face to face meeting with Angela, she admits that the pictures of Megan were of a family friend, though her daughter Megan 19 is in rehab. She also confess of haven painted all the paintings that she had sent to Nev. Nev therefore realizes that he was talking to Angela while believing he was talking to Megan.

Angela confesses her dubious activities on Facebook as Nev is astonished to her testimony

Angela confesses her dubious activities on Facebook as Nev is astonished to her testimony

Angela confesses of maintain 16 different facebook accounts and was using Megan as one of the alternate accounts to talk to Nev. According to Angela most of what she poses to be is what she had wanted to in real life.

Angela husband Vince talks of how there are people in everyone’s life who keep them active, always on their toes and always thinking. He tells Nev a story about the fishermen who found that putting catfish in the tanks with the cod kept them active and ensured the quality of the fish.

Vince - Angela husband

Vince – Angela husband

At the end of the documentary from the screen text, I learnt that Angela did not have cancer, she doesn’t know the girl on the picture, but also the person on the picture (Megan) was Aimee Gonzales, a professional model and photographer.  Angela deactivated 15 of her profiles and remains with one. Nev is still on facebook and has 732 friends including Angela.

The story of the Catfish can be supported by both Turkles “The Flight from Conversation” and Marche’s “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” on their drive to espouse conversation as against connection.

On page 6, paragraph 2 of Stephen Marche’s article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”  He states that “It’s lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear.” Angela uses fake name and picture of Megan to capture the mind of Nev. Like Vince put it, there are people in everyone’s life who keep them active. Nev became romantically attracted to Megan base on the way she projects herself. It is unfortunate some individuals sole use of the social media is to trick and scam innocent people. Angela may have not only devastated the mindset of Nev but made him feel empty after thinking that he has finally found a romantic relationship.

In the article “The Flight from Conversation” by Sherry Turkle, page 2, paragraph 3 she said “Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little- Just right”. Angela did exactly that. She presented herself in the best form she could have loved to appear in real life, she fine tune her voice and personify herself into different characters with the sole aim of catfish. Angela purported not to be happy with her current life as that wasn’t what she dreamt of. I’m not sure catfish can achieve the flamboyant life she had expected rather it will lead to a more embarrassment.

 

 

Summary “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

In the article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”  Stephen Marche stated that the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter has strengthening our connections. However, he purported that research suggest the rise in loneliness and narcissism. He went further to outline mental and physical illness to our souls and society as a result of the loneliness caused by Facebook. Stephen Marche gave an example of Yvette Vickers’s mysterious death, comparing the attention she received in death and to the final years of her life. His argument incorporates religious feelings based on German study on loneliness. The report states that active believers who saw God as abstract and helpful rather than as a wrathful immediate presence were less lonely and that the mere belief in God was relatively independent of loneliness. He also mentioned few researchers like Burke’s whose research does not support the assertion that Facebook create loneliness rather she said the people who experience loneliness on Facebook are lonely away from Facebook.

Steps to Upload Print Screen

I have done the Print Screen and it works. Below are the steps I followed to make it work.

 
 1) To print screen there is a button named ‘ Prnt Scrn / Sys Req ‘ on your keyboard. Please choose the window you want to print or if it is the desktop then the desktop and press ‘ Alt + Prnt Scrn / Sys Req ‘.
2) Now click the ‘ Start ‘ menu and click ‘ Run ‘.
3) Type in ‘ mspaint ‘ and click ‘ OK ‘.
4) In the new window that opens press ‘ ctrl + v ‘ to paste the screen you printed just now.
5) Now in ‘ Paint ‘ click ‘ File ‘ menu and then click ‘ Save ‘.
6) In the ‘ Save In ‘ field select the location where you want to save. Provide the name of the file in the ‘ File Name ‘ field. and select the ‘ Save as Type ‘ as ‘ JPEG ‘ and click ‘ Save ‘.
7) Now you have a normal .jpeg file that you can upload to your webpage just as you would any other picture.
Hope it works for you too.

“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

I joined facebook in 2010. I had approximately 345 friends. 75% of whom I have never met in real life. I’m also a member of 41 groups on facebook but only active in 4.  I sometimes post and also comment on different posts. The groups I actively participate in are Sierra Leone Issues, online salone, exzenithors, and fullah progressive union.

Mario Colao knew binge drinking, smoking and overindulging in food were slowly killing him. So he stopped, cold turkey. Learn about his 200 pound weight loss journey and see his awesome transformation: http://cnn.it/1eJCkJD via CNN Health

Mario Colao knew binge drinking, smoking and overindulging in food were slowly killing him. So he stopped, cold turkey. Learn about his 200 pound weight loss journey and see his awesome transformation: http://cnn.it/1eJCkJD via CNN Health

My activities on facebook include chatting, posting, liking and commenting. I check my account 2 or 3 times a day with an average of 15 minutes per logon. I have uncountable like pages which includes City Tech, Sport world, CNN, BBC Africa and few others.

The question by Stephen Marche “is facebook making us lonely”? I will say loneliness is a relative term. Facebook had never made me lonely rather it makes me feel fulfilled and happier.

Barrie: I was this young the last time I saw Ms. Jalloh

Barrie: I was this young the last time I saw Ms. Jalloh

Most of my childhood friends that I had no clue of there whereabouts are being found through facebook. Recently, I got connected with Ms. Jalloh after 12 years. She’s currently living in Staten Island and we are in constant touch as bosom friends.

Despite the connection of old and new friends, facebook is the greatest source of information for current happenings in my country, I felt at home.  At any given time, I have a minimum of 10 active friends online.

In page 1, paragraph 2, the article states “within two week, by technocrati’s count, vicker’s lonesome death was already the subject of 16,057 Facebook posts and 881 tweets”. This is a clear manifestation of Facebook fulfillment in our lives. It doesn’t only connect us but also enable us to express our thoughts and perception on topical issues thereby making us less lonely.

It’s hard to distinguish what constitute loneliness. On page 5, paragraph 4, the article states “A recent study out of Australia (where close to half the population is active on Facebook), titled “Who uses Facebook?” found a complex and sometimes confounding relationship between loneliness and social networking”. Facebook is a social networking site that has eliminated social loneliness to a greater extent for instance when I’m bored, I logon to my account and engage on either chatting with friends, watch posted videos or read different posts.

I see myself happier, connected and less lonely with the social media. I learnt new things or see amazing things every time I’m on facebook. It gives me the optimism and motivation to face real life challenges.

Barrie: Facebook is a great source to find your lost friends.

Barrie: Facebook is a great source to find your lost friends.

One could not totally disagree with the article statement on page 5, paragraph 4 “Facebook users had slightly lower levels of “social loneliness” – the sense of not feeling bonded with friends – but “significantly higher levels, of family loneliness” – the sense of not feeling bonded with friends”. That could be a point but looking at the definition of social media – it’s the interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. This definition excludes family ties. It could be true, people might be too engage on social media with little or no time for their immediate family but that doesn’t mean loneliness, sometimes, it can be bored listening or discussing the same topic over and again.

Facebook made me fulfilled. No more loneliness.

Facebook made me fulfilled. No more loneliness.

Depending on individual perception and commitment one should outline the buffer zone between social media and family affairs, priority should always be given to family but in generality, Facebook has been a fulfillment to my life and I believe to the lives of many.