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The revolution won’t be twitted



I don’t even know who wrote the song “The Revolution won’t be televised” but it has stuck in my mind lately. Maybe it is due to what I’ve been thinking after the the announcement that Twitter would censor twits that are deemed illegal by the governments of the countries where they originate. The outrage after this announcement reverberated through the Internet. I think all of us who participate in this exchange fest of ideas and immediate updates via social media, do not recognize cyberspace as a parceled territory. It is a world into itself, a world without rules, a world of freedom and free flowing words: an almost idyllic democracy. Any restriction, any one who dares claim ownership or control over the waves on which our thoughts travel, offends our New World philosophy. And that is the way it should be. We should all be warriors of our freedom, of the freedom of these spaces to represent a global community that demands a set of rules other than those obsolete and worn out ones that have little to do with the needs and desires that so many of us have began to know and exercise.

It is however important to recognize that we cannot or should not take our cyber existence as a substitute for the real life we are in. The excitement over our ability to incite large mass demonstrations by activating the chatter and seduction of tweets and facebook pages or groups, does not lead to revolution. A revolution starts maybe with a show of willing hands, but it doesn’t stop there: it needs more. It needs a plan, a strategy, a course of action. It needs to know itself, not only in terms of how much anger or discontent it is able to show out in the streets, but of how much change it can really bring about. If we take out a tyrant -as was the case in Egypt- and have no alternative but to allow the military to take the reins- we have shown we can provoke changes, but we have also shown that we had no plan of action and that the changes, in the long run, have only been cosmetic. It is risky to incite large changes when one lacks long term objectives. This is the lesson of the last year, in my opinion. The enormous success that social media has had in political struggles demonstrates the triumph of a method: but the desired changes have to be laid and spelled out, and the energies that are unleashed should have a clear direction.

The learning curve has begun, the possibilities are open, but let’s not forget the need to pair illusion with reality.

Gioconda Belli
January 29th, 2012