Techcrunch published a post highlighting yet another bunch slamming Malcolm Gladwell for pointing out again how inconsequential social media is when it comesto fuelling and sustaining social activism.

Let’s examine recent events in North Africa.

Tunisia’s revolution was over before CNN (and other western media outlets) got the chance to report YET another African disaster.  Determined to redeem their revolution credibility (RevCred), they stormed Egypt with their cameras and Anderson Cooper became a ‘hero’.

14 days later, Mubarak is still president and the outside world appears not to be so enthralled with 24-hour news channels coverage of Egypt; disappointed that their ReTweets have not pushed out Mubarak. We are so bored that there is no trace of the Egypt’s revolution on twitter’s trending topics.

What we fail to understand is that the people on the ground – the people affected by the Mubaraks – are not twits. They the guys and girls on the streets; the 94% of the population not on Facebookthat experience real hopeless and oppression.

I fully concede that social media toolswill have a big role to play in some cases. e.g the upcoming Nigerian elections. But when its comes down to putting your life on the line – that is giving your life for the change that needs to happen in one’s country – the real fuel will be the people in the streets.

Not Facebook. Not Twitter.

NB: One could even argue that the Internet slowed down the momentum of the revolt or how else can you explain that the most intense part of the protests took place when the Internet was cut off (people had to leave their homes) and slowed down around the time the Internet was restored?

Thanks to Uzo for helping me edit this post.

5 thoughts on “Why I Think Gladwell is Right.

  1. Oo spot on. I agree with Gladwell. And I would like to add that in Nigeria, most of the population live out since the urban areas and hence they do not have access to social media because they do not have internet access.

  2. Hey. No need to mention the obvious: Mubarak has stepped down. The people have spoken. I hear what you’re saying, and what Gladwell is saying, but as I pointed out on cp-africa, only fools (slash CNN) think that Fbook, Twitter are the cause/prime motivators of the revolution. Sane people, and the Egyptians organizers using those networks know that they are mere TOOLs, albeit insanely powerful, democratizing tools. It is missing the point to bucket the fools and the sane together, and ignore the powerful effects that those social media tools have had on this revolutions.

  3. Egypt actually did trend on Twitter. Still, the fact remains that you have to put yourself right in there to get anything to happen- you can’t do anything by sitting in front of a screen. Sure, social media can help get international coverage, after all, it’s just a communication tool. But to get real change, you have to go personal- right up in their faces!

    And, i love love Gladwell- he’s insightful


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