Cool title huh? I do love my X-box 360/PS3 first person shooter games. The appeal of joining millions of gamers across the world in multi-player matches to capture flags, score points and ‘get one over the Americans’ is, to all intents and purposes, liberating. However the computer warfare I’m talking about doesn’t involve jungles, or deserts or abandoned warehouses. I’m talking about the ideological struggle taking place through social media; as digital activists are using the realm of cyber space to bring down governments, and promote a fairer, more just society. The potential for this is so great, that regimes across the world fear its power, and debate rages about closing such sites down.
Throughout 2011, the power of sites such as Twitter and Facebook has grown dramatically. Culminating in the protest we saw on CHRISTMAS EVE in Russia (hey, when the Russian people get mad, there’s change in the air), we saw both the positive side of social media, and the negative. For me, the riots of last summer showed that not only could Twitter be used to dictate the movement of gangs intent on smashing up major cities, but also by those reacting to the attack on those communities, as the same network was used to organise mass clean-up operations. This round in the escalating war for the hearts and minds of young people proves that in order to engage this disenfranchised generation, we must engage better with growing technology. As I have said on a number of occasions: Whoever owns Facebook in the next decade will rule the world.
Recently, I spoke to a young man from Ghana, who uses Facebook to organise community book clubs for underprivileged children in villages around the country. He also works to provide clean water for those with none. He is an example of someone who chooses to use the Internet to promote positive social change, as opposed to the destructive influence of pornography, aggression and abuse toward authority. If you can influence the hearts and minds of people; you can bring about immense social change, and that is what governments are afraid of, as we can possibly see in countries like Russia. During the 1950s and 60s, a generation marched to demand the dismantling of nuclear arms, even though nuclear power has also been used for good. The internet is the new ‘bomb’. The question is, who will be the first to truly harness its power?
- Category: News