Progressive/Regressive Media (Q.1.)

social-media

Today it may be far too early to concretely determine if social media is progressive or dangerous. Social media is everywhere in todays world and is used by millions of people worldwide whether their sharing photos sending messages or just wishing someone happy birthday. Social media has its dark side such as stalking or cyber bullying but because in my opinion it fuelled revolutions in the middle east during the Arab Spring in 2011 I accept that social media has aided in changing the world for the better.

The Arab Spring began in late 2010 when dissatisfied youth Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself alive in protest against Tunisia’s authoritative government for the countries high youth unemployment and weak economy. Bouazizi’s extreme demonstration was the catalyst for widespread revolt against Tunisia’s government which soon spread to the countries neighbours Morocco, and Libya in particular where protest escalated to war and eventually the toppling of its dictator Gadaffi. The wave of social and political unrest spread from North Africa to the Gulf states and the Middle East to countries like Syria and Yemen who are both still being ravaged by civil war as a result of the Arab Spring uprising 5 years ago.

arab spring map

Through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, activists were able to communicate enabling them to recruit and to assemble themselves for mass protests. The hash tag #sidibouzid became the viral rallying banner of revolt in Tunisia on twitter which later began to trend across the globe. Social media carried the message of revolution across the Arab world and although media blackouts were incurred in Egypt it did not stop the momentum of the revolution which overthrew the authoritarian government of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt-Women-Protest-Arab-Spring

The Arab Spring was an event which inspired the people of the planet that they can strive to change how they live in society by connecting and co-operating with others online where in the real world this maybe impossible in countries where human rights are infringed. The Arab Spring evolved how we use social media and since then politicians use it to directly address the public or activists use it to spread their message like in the yes campaign during the marriage equality referendum.

 

 

Power of Bloody Images (Q.2.Citizen Journalism)

No one video can sum up the horror of the brutal civil war in Syria though the footage of a pre-school boy, Omran Daqneesh being pulled from the rubble in Aleppo in August last year went viral on social media causing massive outcry world wide calling for an end to the conflict . This video became a rare icon in the sea of never ending video trends on facebook and has been compared to the chilling photo of Alan Kurdi a little boy who drowned while en route to Europe. Much like Kurdi’s  infamous posthumous photo Daqneesh became a literal poster child for intervention in the crisis. This video along with countless more that followed paved the way for the Aleppo ceasefire and evacuation.

As the city of Aleppo in 2016 was ravaged by conflict it was up to its citizens of the city to get news out as many journalists had previously fled the besieged city. These testimonials from the cities residents enduring through the bombardment were invaluable to news agencies like ITV who interviewed a teacher on his experiences trying to reassure his students during the air strikes. These citizen testimonials from the people on the ground in Syria brought the conflict into peoples consciousness as news has become so participatory thanks to social media especially youtube where Aleppo resident Lina Shamy regularly uploaded videos to her channel during this time. Citizen journalists proved themselves invaluable during the ceasefire exposing to the world that Syria and it allies held disregard for the internationally sanctioned peace agreement when they began to restart bombing the city a day after the ceasefire was agreed upon.

Were it not for the citizens of Aleppo I hold that the conflict may have gone by without the widespread recognition and outcry of the international public whose activism prompted international countries to convince Syrian forces into a ceasefire saving numerous civilian lives.