The Flash Mob for Freedom

Flashback to 2011 — five and a half years ago, long before the current downturn in US presidential politics:

(March 27, 2011)

The events in Tunisia and Egypt, and now Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, demonstrate the resurgence of oral culture and the power of social narrative in the digital age. Fuelled by cellphone video and Internet access, and abetted by Facebook and Twitter, social narratives are changing the nature of global society. In countries where illiteracy makes the spread of conventional liberal ideas impossible, tweets do what books could not.

Create the story where the dictator’s government is evil and corrupt, and where the desired outcome is the overthrow of tyranny and the celebration of freedom. Spread such a narrative by word of mouth as much as by electronic means, and the flash mob for freedom becomes both virtual and real.

Digital communication in the 21st century allows ideas to spread at the speed of light, unconstrained by the conventions and barriers inherent in literate culture. Sights, sounds and images unfold in the palm of the receiver’s hand regardless of whether he (or she) has any education, the right social background, or an understanding of the politics involved.

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