Monday, February 21, 2011

“Shall we get naked and start the revolution?”

That is one of my favorite lines from the movie Orange County, very funny movie.  Revolution is truly in the air though and it’s not so funny.  Like many I have been watching and checking in daily to see what continues to unfold in the Middle East and Northern Africa.  Who knows how things will ultimately end up; I don’t think we will see any stability in these regions for a number of years from now.   I married into a family of wonderful people who are from the Middle East and I hear firsthand accounts of growing up in repressive regimes and learning how it is to live a life oppressed.   But the last few years have been different. 
Revolution 2.0 – the revolution spread by social media is a different application – one whose creation was bound to appear and yet I think caught everyone off guard. Usually I am more cynical than this – at first I saw this winter of discontent as perhaps a foreign backed uprising.  I even made cavalier remarks on FB about it as if I had some vague understanding of the situation from here.  It turns out that the very ridiculousness of me comprehending this type of discontent and mentioning it on FB is in fact the actual beauty of it.  The globalization of people unfolding and taking shape, once out of its box, will be difficult if not impossible to stuff back down.  The fact that I can say what I want to say on FB, through Twitter and even here in my banal little blog is one of the greatest freedoms we have.  I however do not say everything I want to say.  I have family in a repressive country.  My name is easily tied to them, their internet use, their friends on FB and their twitter messages are scrutinized and although I may not suffer the direct repercussions of my voice here in my country, they may well suffer it directly in theirs.  I understand that my internet usage is monitored to some degree here too.  I think we can look at the Patriot Act for that, but I am not up to anything funky and I really don’t care if the government wants to read about how I decorated my daughter’s apartment.    I understand the limitations of our freedoms in the US – just Google Japanese American Internment in 1942 if you are wondering about the limits of our freedom, having said that, I understand our dilemma of freedom and national security as well. 
The real issue here is that people can now easily see how other people are living and they want freedom.  Don’t get me wrong, I think they want something to eat, a place to live and a job too!  But with this globalization people can see right through a window how it is to be free and not repressed.  People always want to be free, they may not actually know how that will play out for them – the sacrifice and cost of freedom – but they want it, it’s natural.  When people live repressed for decades they come to have little to lose. When you have little to lose you become more willing to risk it all, making you one hell of a formidable opponent.
Once in a board room meeting someone asked my boss – a VIP in the oil industry, if he was ever worried about the helicopter flights he had to take over the Middle East to inspect pipelines and he casually answered “How high can they throw rocks?”  I thought to myself about how long the turmoil in the Middle East has reigned, how little the oppressed people had and for how many generations they were willing to wage their wars and I answered to myself “Pretty fucking high.” 

So, while we in the US continue to download our apps to track Lindsey Lohan’s rehab visits, watch The Real Housewives of wherever on Hulu and post another music video on FB there is another side of the world that is waking up to social media, smelling the coffee and they like what’s brewing! 
I would imagine every long sitting strong-man dictator is a bit fidgety after these last few months and I am sure they are reevaluating a simpler life for themselves.  We have to hope that it is actually freedom that gets ushered in as regimes collapse. We have to hope that the rebels retain enough strength to no longer suffer fools, dictators or other repressive groups and continue with their resolve and heart to form what they want and need to govern.  We as a global society we need to do what we can to open more windows and encourage this global empowerment; because it is in the dark corners and recesses that tyranny breeds. 
I wonder if Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey ever sat and thought about their contributions through to this type of a scenario unfolding. 
I found this article on CNN compelling: Five strangers "friend" a revolution, you may like it too!

My thoughts today,

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Kim for a beautifully written and well articulated analysis of the convergent streams of the new social media and the long cry for freedom and democracy.