Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

This week’s topic was very interesting as it discussed the impact of social media, such as Twitter, within Africa.  In particular the article entitled Twittering the Boko Harem Uprising in Nigeria, by Innocent Chiluwa and Adetunji Adegoke, examines how Twitter was able to connect Nigerians to each other and to the global population.  The authors describe how Twitter was used as a global platform for discussion on the actions taken by Boko Harem.

Social media is a difficult subject to contend with.  There are various arguments that can be made for or against Twitter or Facebook that all have some form of validity.  However, based on my own experiences with users of these services, discussions revolving around politics or social action are usually met with ridicule, scorn, and general ignorance of the subject at hand.  However, this is not to say in any way that there are not individuals who are clearly versed in what they say in their comments.  And in some cases, thankfully these people are actually able to have a decent discussion using social media.

That being said, I immediately drew comparison of this article and the tweets in Nigeria to the social movements taken in the Egyptian Revolution which was part of the Arab Spring.  In these cases, Twitter was used to organize like-minded people in order to successfully push for change within their own country.

I can see the benefit of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets in cases similar to the Arab Spring.  I believe that social media gives ordinary people a platform to voice their opinion that would otherwise go unheard.  Yes there will always be those people who simply decide to be troublemakers online, yet I believe that this is a small price to pay if it means that the world is able to hear cries for help or the shouts of joy from any individual who is able to do so.  In your opinion, is social media a valid option to incite change?  Or should requests for change be directed through another source?

Joshua Steinborn


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