Apathy is one of the worst characteristics that a human being can possess.
Every day the Web is becoming more of a means for giving people from all around the world a better way to stand up for their rights.
One of the biggest problems in the world today is that downtrodden peoples largely go overlooked, because they have no way of making their grievances felt or heard. With the growth of the Internet’s reach within the global economy, it is more plausible than ever to make your voice heard. Twitter and Facebook, for example, are not only about the younger generation sending inane messages back and forth. The potential of these social platforms is only beginning to be understood. People from all over the world are learning to harness the raw power of social networking sites in order to more efficiently communicate, organize and mobilize.
Far too many individuals have been tortured, forgotten for years on end in dank cells and died of hunger in many unsavory places around the globe, while we are totally oblivious to it all. One cannot pretend to care about what one knows nothing about.
A technological revolution is underway that stretches from Tehran, Iran, to Havana, Cuba, where the highest levels of government are gravely concerned and scrambling to find ways to shut down these perilous sites. In Iran we saw the power of Twitter and how a revolution can be waged from the ground up. This was only a prelude to democracy in action. Most ironic of all, this change is occurring within the unlikely realm of a hard-line authoritarian Muslim theocracy.
As more and more people log on around the world, they express themselves freely and raise awareness in forums maintained as they see fit. People are being persecuted and physically assaulted, as in the case of Yoani Sánchez in Cuba. In my eyes, these are the heralds of democracy within its purest form.
What is Sánchez’s instrument? What is she doing to rally critical support? Is she brandishing a Kalashnikov Assault Rifle or waving a bullhorn? She must be the head of some nebulous underground guerilla movement, right?
No. The big threat to Cuban state security is a little blog she runs right from the comfort of her meager accommodations. The Cuban government has embarked on a crusade to shut her down, but have been largely unsuccessful. Far too many people are online nowadays and new blogs are popping up all over Cuba, thanks to her audacious lead. Powerful is the influence of this seemingly innocuous technology.
Clearly, social media is becoming increasingly significant in our daily lives. Thanks to social media, geographic walls are eroding, while new online communities are rising up all over.
The possibilities seem unlimited. As a senior that is about to graduate, I go to class and marvel at the fact that it seems that more than one third of the people in lecture have their eyes glued to the familiar blue-and-white screen of Facebook, instead of paying attention to the professor’s super-interesting lecture.
The Internet is a great tool that allows people to express themselves and connect in ways that we could have never have imagined 20 years ago. It is a brave new world and I hope to be right in the front row.