Internet/Telecom/Social Media

The revolution will not be twittered

The revolution will not be brought to you in 140 characters or less from anonymous sources half-a-world away and repeated as the whole truth by talking heads with an agenda. It will not star your internet friends or make you vicariously courageous.

And what business is it of ours in any case? If you’re so excited about freedom on its bloody march, then start walking. But my best honest guess is that the majority of Americans now weighing in on a contested election in a country that a good many of them can’t find on a map don’t even understand what’s happening in Iran.

That’s the problem.

Don’t look at me. My knowledge of Iranian politics is not enough to choose sides. Because Mousavi opposed Ahmadinejad does not mean that he’s a beacon of hope and freedom. This is not a revolution to bring down the Iranian system anymore than the candidacy of President Obama was a revolution. Elections are merely refined power struggles of the elite.

Fitting, then, that a group of people who make a living at such power struggles should weigh in on the matter. The US House of Representatives – that august body of a good many personages who voted “yea” on such bold initiatives in freedom as the USA PATRIOT Act – is inserting itself into the domestic politics of a foreign nation in the name of the downtrodden yearning to be free. Bitter irony, anyone? (Except Ron Paul, who may be the only sane one of the lot.)

Bloggers are proudly proclaiming their acts of what the US Government would define as cyber-terrorism if it were done to a government website.

You are not a part of the revolution.

Is the situation interesting? Yes. It’s tense and the stakes are high. But this isn’t our nation, nor is it the great push for freedom and democracy that we’re pretending it is. It seems that we like to believe that we chipped at the Berlin Wall. We believe that we stood in front of the tanks in Moscow. Or at least we believe that people do things like that because they want to be like us.

We’ve got it backwards. We don’t have the guts to take to the streets like the Iranians…or even the French. And we know we don’t have the guts. That’s why we take such vicarious pride in these events.

A socio-economic elite has pilloried the majority of Americans for decades now with barely a whimper. It hasn’t always been that way, and once upon a time “This Land is Your Land” was a song about revolution. But you’d never know it unless you heard Pete Seeger slip the last two verses in as they were originally written. (I’d twitter it, but there are too many characters.) Now if it was those old-time Wobblies standing vicariously with the people on the streets of Tehran, then it might be worth something.

It’s not.

Nor would the US have erupted in a similar way if the organs had announced a McCain landslide. We would have gone to work; paid our taxes; and bitched a lot. We like our stepping out of line with others taking the police beatings. If anyone in the US might do it it would be the rabid right, but at the teaparties they only dunked bags into cups of water…because they didn’t want to break the law. And that just about sums up America’s revolutionary spirit.

Unless, of course, it’s someone else’s revolution. You may not know this yet, but what the rest of the world hates about us is that we have a nasty habit of sticking our noses in everyone’s business and telling them what to do, what’s right and what’s wrong. And it was not only George W. Bush; it’s also the guy who’s so proud of his cyber warfare conquests.

Wear the green. Follow the tweets breathlessly. Cheer on the brave souls willing to get their skull kicked in for something. But if you want a revolution you’ll have to get your own.

And you don’t, so you won’t.

16 replies »

  1. Nor would the US have erupted in a similar way if the organs had announced a McCain landslide. We would have gone to work; paid our taxes; and bitched a lot.

    Yes, exactly! The only revolutions we can get down with are on TV (or, today, YouTube).

    Though I will say Obama was clever this afternoon when he said:

    If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

    Most people don’t realize that to Iran’s rulers the concept of “respect” is almost as important as it is to Aretha. In other words, like it or not, he was censuring them directly without most listeners picking up on it.

  2. “…because they didn’t want to break the law.”

    That is exactly what is wrong with our country today. You’re supposed to get a permit in order to stage a protest! We’ve rested on the accomplishments of previous generations for so long that we couldn’t even begin to approach their level of sacrifice. No one from Generations X or Y will march on Selma or be sprayed with fire hoses, none of us will take a bullet for our freedoms, we’ll just bitch. We’re so trapped in the web of political correctness that any real action is immediately denounced as extremism and terrorism. None of the mainstream politicians will support a truly revolutionary cause because it would alienate too many powerful people who are happy with the status quo. America has lost its spirit, we’re just a gilded husk.

  3. lolz! Hammer, meet nail head. Americanz don’t have balzz unless someone else tells them its okay to have them. This whole color revo1t in Ir4n is a See-Eye-A operasion. They announced it to the world in May of 2k7 on ABC news.

    If this failz Henry Kiss-injure says we’ll have to kill demz Eyeranians, excuse me, “liberate” them.

  4. yes it is their revolution -and yet it touches so many

    Twitter and FaceBook are vehicles to raise attention – other news media and social media can then provide the more detailed information and Twitter tweets link to these more detailed analysis – which is how I ended up here

    yes oil prices will rise – and will further destabilise what was the global financial crisis

    and it is likely that this crisis will drive a post GFC stimulus – with increased military weapon expenditures

    at least enough people cared to express a view
    – in the past criticised for being too egocentric and not caring about others
    – and now criticised for caring about others in another part of the world

    the fact that they engaged gives me hope for Gen X, Y & F

    I wonder what was said by citizens in 1914 and pre 1939 ?? or pre 1942 for USA ??

    were people criticised for being worried – expressing concerns

    in 1969 I was 14 years old and criticised for caring about what was happening in Vietnam and Cambodia

    – so why criticise today’s young people for caring?? so much right and wrong on both sides

    … such young people are our future …

    thank God so many people cared enough to state a view

  5. @KerriAnne: I don’t think he was criticizing people for caring.
    Caring is fine.
    People are acting like they’re Che Guevara because they put a green ribbon on their blog or changed their background color to green. As if they’re risking the wrath of the Iranian cyber-police. You know, if you have green on your blog they kick your door in and drag you off to never be seen again, even if you’re three thousand miles away from Iran. (At least that’s how I took the shrieks of retarded defiance some people are making.)
    That’s one of the major problems in the US. People think supporting a cause is enough.
    Heaven forbid they actually be asked to *do* anything for that cause, especially if it might cause them a moment of discomfort. In the minds of most people wearing a ribbon does a cause just as much good as marching through drifts of tear gas and hails of bullets. Plus they can stay in the air conditioning.
    If stating a view is all they’re doing, they’re just wasting their breath.

  6. “…guts to take it to the streets”. Spoken like a true armchair warrior. The revolution will happen around you while you wait for it. Don’t be surprised that the tired and tried tactics of civil disobedience are being discarded. They only work when you are fighting medieval clerics.

  7. Ah, everybody wants to get to heaven. Nobody wants to die. The world is too small for our opinion. The world is too big for our ability to care. Would McCain winning have shut down FaceBook? Now, THAT we still don’t know. But the assassination of JFK? We may know before too much longer…and then again, maybe not. But THIS is certainly interesting after all this time:

  8. it’s called people caring about people

    when governments screw up , people let them know

    Maybe the American government should maintain a low profile when it comes to Iran but people of the world will still stand in solidarity against repressive regimes in the world.


  9. You’re only watching the revolution because they keep it on t.v. and wrote 20,000 articles about it.

  10. @KA

    In America the young people spoke through Facebook, blogs and other internet host sites about your new President – a beacon for change. Mr Obama was the first political candidate to understand and harness ‘netroots’. There is a place for Twitter, Facebook et al. If there were not Iran and China would not get so hot under the collar about the written word and its passage through the fibre optics…

    Many, many people do care. And if there is an argument to be made about the power of the web to corrupt then the opposite surely is true? Freedom to think and write and pass on the message to others does bring about change and revolution. What a wonderful thing that the authorities and the aribters of thought and action can and are circumnavigated…

    …once the fish drawn in the sand and painted on doors was a way of communicating.

  11. What business is it of ours? It is a fascinating development in a part of the country that many of us in the West follow. How is that not enough of a reason to want to learn more about what is happening there?

    I’ve been watching the Twitter feed too, and the main thing I see is people expressing their support of the Iranian people. Sure, there are the inevitable nutjobs (e.g., McCain) who may look at the whole situation as support for a desire to bomb anyone and everyone with whom they disagree. But there is very little of that on #iranelection.

    I have yet to find anyone outside Iran who considers him or herself to be part of their revolution. We are merely interested observers.

  12. “Many people care…” about what? What they see on TV? What they hear from the “news” online or off? I’ll bet 99% of the people in this country have never been to Iran. Who has ever met an Iranian? Probably close to the same number have no idea of the rotten history we’ve had with that country. There is NO understanding of the politics of Iraq, or even our own foreign policy. We do not support democracy anywhere, per se, we support our own interests (and that means business). Many years ago, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan told me that since WWII there has been a concentrated effort on the part of those in power to make Americans more stupid. The program has been a great success, and our “government” knows it.

  13. Why Europe, the Middle East at every opportunity to meddle in the business? Europe is more democratic? No! Europe, just like oil does. Iraq, Iran does not care