January 28, 2011

Egypt Offline: We’re So Full of It

And by it, I mean shit.

Egypt’s Government shut-off of the internet has sparked the expected Twitter trending topic, Facebook fan pages with a gazillion Likes’ and spam-levels of emails with a powerpoint presentation of photos you’ve already seen.

Two things:

  1. This is not a knock on social network websites. I do believe that they teach/enable/empower free speech, and therefore, freedom.
  2. There is nothing wrong with us talking about it over these same networks.

But lets be clear: we’re gossiping over the water-cooler.

A retweet with the #Egypt hashtag won’t do anything to help those in the conflict. You’ll feel a lot better, true. And maybe, some geeks will have a moment of pleasure seeing the whole internet looking at them.

But very soon they’ll notice we’re just looking. And talking. Even if you post/write/tweet/scream INJUSTICE at the top of your bandwidth, we’re still in the bleachers, looking down on the events. Clicking, clicking, clicking.

Of course, some click their way to making a difference. But this implies you have to protest, to disrupt, to break things. It can be hacking a site or writing a document that gets summited to court (blogpost is still gossiping).

This new networked planet allows us to be equally affected by people and issues far and close; yet we somehow neglect items very near because they don’t arrive through the modem.

Check around. Many countries have either the capability –or the proposed legislation– to allow an internet kill switch like Egypt used last night.

Preventing and protesting this type of control locally, does a heck of a lot more than telling angry, scared and tired people half a world away that your tweets are with them.

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