With the zooming and rush of social media tickling the spines of technologists everywhere, there is scramble to claim new social impact for the tools of the new media. Over the last two years, Facebook and Twitter have been given credit or blame for all types of endeavors. Everywhere there is civil unrest, the participants have been using social media like Facebook and Twitter. So unsurprisingly, the latest claim of social media triumph is the Egyptian uprising.
While there is value in navel-gazing about whether social media brings us closer together or pushes us further apart, sometimes we lose sight of the reality and its just silly.
Those who rightfully evangelize the ability of social media to connect disparate groups of people under a common cause should remember that before green tinged avatars during the Iran uprising and “Team Coco” middle finger to Jay Leno, there were political uprisings and angry fan letter writing campaigns.
These new media structures are just that. Structures. They give the people within them the ability but not the intent or motivation. Facebook can not cause a revolution any more than the English Longbow or the Flintlock rifle could. People and their intentions are the real tools of revolutionary action. Giving too much credit to the tools revolutionaries use feels like a disservice.