The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday, 1 July 2012


I wrote this write-up for a research journal during May 2012. I am now publishing it on my blog in parts. 

Before 2011, most of the queries on the key phrase ‘social media’ returned with the links detailing out information about use of social media as strategic marketing tool. That was until recently. The year 2011 has changed much.

Never was the smell of Jasmine so captivating like it was in 2011. It uprooted three dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It has become a nightmare for despots in Syria and Bahrain, sent shock waves among the dictators of well-to-do despotic countries like Saudi Arabia to push for reform measures and led to power transition in Yemen. It has given a new boost to the efforts to address and discipline the corporate dominance, corruption and lobbying in the form of now viral and global ‘Occupy’ movement. It is giving tough times to another dictator in making, Vladimir Putin’, in Russia, with increasing protests against reports of rigging in the December 4, 2011 parliamentary elections as well as the Putin-Medvedev power swap deal. World’s second most populous country and largest democracy, India, saw revival of corruption as ‘the’ main issue and it happened in a country where corruption was being accepted as a way of life. It was heard even in one of the most tightly controlled regimes, in China, where a non-descript village Wukan rose to protest the land-grab policy of the local administration and Beijing had to take side with the villagers.

It was all around, a surge of expression of unquenched desire to see the change rising, spreading with the Tunisian outburst and acquiring a global canvas. The common man with his benchmark protest address, the non-descript street around the corner, became the potent symbol of change.

And what armed him? Hail the Social Media!

What began in Tunisia spread rapidly through the region and then to globe riding high on the information superhighway that the Internet has become and leading the pack of the Internet tools were social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and numerous blogs. So the Tunisian revolution is named as the Facebook Revolution and now the Syrian uprising is being termed as the YouTube Revolution. Every major protest movement of 2011 has the underlying theme of the use of the social media to connect the dots of a phenomenon, a world of globalized concern in the days of globalized communication and hence blurred borders.

This paper intends to look at the mass movements in 2011 and the related trends in the online sphere; how this intense activity was supported by the spreading Internet usage and infrastructure; and what role this online surge of activity played in supporting the movement on the ground. Most of the information for this paper has been sourced from the online sources in order to highlight the availability of significant amount of information from credible online sources on use of the social media for a non-marketing issue, i.e., the Arab Spring or the anti-corruption movement of India.


There are testaments. The persistent presence of Internet (for its social media influence) in the last two years as one of the most potential contenders for the Peace Nobel is one telling example. The last year when the Peace Nobel decision recognized the role of the Arab Spring as evident from the statement of Prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland that said "We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context. Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy,” And recognizing Arab Spring is recognizing the expanse of the social media in related mass upsurges and it reflects well in an Al Jazeera report - “Social media powered up the Arab Spring and has created a new space for how history will remember its events.”

What all that we discuss in the name of Arab Spring today began on December 17, 2010 when a poor fruit vendor of a non-descript Tunisian town Sidi Bouzid decided he could not take anymore the corrupt ways of the local administration and self-immolated himself. But the message of a non-political Tunisian burning himself to protest the rampant corruption went viral on Facebook and upped the momentum resulting in a mass movement that uprooted the dictator of 23 years, Zine Ben Ali. Many were shot dead during the protests that followed the death of Bouazizi. "Facebook was the only video-sharing platform that was available to Tunisians. And seeing videos of people shot with real bullets in their heads on Facebook was shocking to many Tunisians," said Zied Mhirsi, a Tunisian activist in CBS’ 60 Minutes programme. And it started a chain event of protests that was soon to engulf the region and the globe.


So what did the social media do? How did it bypass the restrictive barriers that are used to control the traditional mass media?

It made the information flow as fast as happening in the real time and at the same time allowed the people consuming the information to modify it with their expressions and further relay – all in the real time - thus creating a chain that crossed the borders and drew international attention and hence increased pressure points. Report of ‘The Project on Information Technology and Political Islam, University of Washington gives us some eye-opening pointers.

The study focuses on trends of the social media activity establishing the fact that how the spike in social media activity preceded the major events of political upheaval aiding the Arab Spring by the way of shaping the political debate. Led by Philip Howard, the project team was made up of Aiden Duffy, Deen Freelon, Muzammil Hussain, Will Mari and Marwa Mazaid. Main findings of the study were:
  • 2,300 tweets a day to 2,30,000 tweets a day – an astonishing rise in rate of daily tweets during the week before Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in Egypt.
  • Top 23 videos on protests and political developments attracted nearly 5.5 million hits.
  • Blog content, both in Tunisia and Egypt, predated the turn of political events.

The study found out that conversations with key words liberty, democracy and revolution immediately preceded the mass protests in the covered countries.

The Spring that spread: The Jasmine fervour that engulfed a region: Just in some months into the uprising, the whole region was engaged into a debate beyond any specific country limits and it was a natural corollary to what has been happening in the Arab world, where almost of the countries, from Asia to Africa, from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, are being run by the despotic rulers operating with brutal assault of iron fist. So the upheaval that began in Tunisia and thus named Jasmine Revolution in the honour of its national flower Jasmine strengthened the voices of change in other Arab countries.

To continue.. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -