It is obvious that thanks to the Internet and distributed control, many barriers have been eradicated. One important benefit of this transition is how people are able to communicate their own opinions to those sharing the same thoughts without being blocked by mainstream media. Thanks to social media, communication is now easier than ever.
This huge improvement has fueled revolutions from all over the world where people are restrained by governments which put heavy control and regulation on mainstream media. In places where “free speech” is something impractical, social media appears to be a pain reliever. Such phenomenon as the #ArabSpring or #EuroMaidan can be successful due to the communication network that people created based on online social platform such as Twitter or Facebook. Social media brings about connectivity, which was essential because ‘connectivity is power’, said our lecturer Ted.
In this post I want to mention another recent phenomena which fit in this context: Hong Kong’s 2014 protests, so called the “Umbrella revolution”. As we have already known, Chinese government has put extreme regulation on Hong Kong, which used to be politically independent from its mother country. Therefore, it was nearly impossible for Hong Kong people to raise their voice through mainstream media. However, the revolution in 2014 was significantly successful thanks to the use of social media, where tweets and posts from students were spreaded out and led to the participation of thousands of citizens who were not students. People also used social media to update about the process, the same as other protests in Tunisia or Ukraine. One of the leaders of the protest was Joshua Wong, who was only 17 at the time, empowered by social media and now elected to Hong Kong’s legislative council.
Therefore, I can conclude that social media has turned zero to hero, empowered who are not empowered, and given voice to those are not heard.