Our readings for Friday’s COMM506 class by Harry Cleaver and Jeffrey Juris are both touting the idea of liberation through the use of technology, more specifically with regards to uprisings against political regimes. Citing the Zapatista Army of National Liberation as the trigger for what are now known as global justice activists, groups with members assembled from far and wide, coming together to fight for what they feel are injustices. These groups have no central authority, they are open and they readily share information. Last year, we saw this happen with a number of middle eastern countries where people gathered on social media sites in order to converse and plan their next steps.
While I don’t mean to lessen the plight of those who are in situations where they feel oppressed, I thought I’d take Juris and Cleaver’s idea of liberation through social media and make this post a little more lighthearted to end off the week.
We have all seen how the availability of tools like Facebook and Twitter can open up dialogues between people and spread information at lightning fast speed in order to get something done. And, we have all, I am sure, experienced at some point or another, the failure of technology as well.
That brings me to this gem of a commercial:
It makes me laugh every time I see it. Today, we are not only seeing the rise in use of social media for more serious and dire situations like the uprisings in the Middle East, but also to bring random (often unconnected) people together for one-off events like with the flash mob craze. These technologies can be used to literally change the world or they can be used to brighten a stranger’s day. Both can be seen as liberating scenarios; liberating a country and liberating individuals to move outside of their comfort zone. Either way, social media is causing a scene and making our lives a bit more surreal.