I find recording experiences that you are experiencing to be silly, holding up your phone to record the performance you’re currently attending, but I’m grateful that we’re able to record and share. It has done so much of social change. I wouldn’t have attended the March for Science or the Women’s March were it not for the “official” Facebook group invitation and seeing that I had friends that were also interested in the Facebook event.
Watching the videos about the Arab Spring (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) really demonstrate just how important it was to be able to plan and organize on Facebook and make video recordings on our phones. The majority of the videos used in this documentary were from mobile phone recordings. People were exposed to the events that were happening to others outside of their communities and they were able to join together to fight for what they wanted. Some of the videos look like chaos but all understood the goal because they had been able to share through social media, Facebook and Blogs. A few statements from the documentary that stuck with me were:
“State television reported nothing of what was happening”
“they weren’t professionals but they knew how to do it [record videos].”
The first quote stuck out because the individual who said it knew what was happening without the help of news media but with the public sharing on social media. When the state is running the news media it will make the appropriate edits to not incite violence or uprisings. Were it not for social media sharing, the Arab Spring would not have made the progress it did as quickly as it did, as organized as it did, and as pointed as it did. It was a model that was transferable to other spaces and other communities that wanted change.
The second quote really just explains that no one is looking for the next great videographer but they were looking for as much available shareable content as possible. We are documenting our world and that documentation can have a great influence on how other people experience they worlds and where they focus their energy.
When we think about social movements happening online we have to also think about our privacy online. Looking at the topic of privacy through these stories from the Arab Spring, privacy and secrecy were pretty important for getting information out there without having people’s identities being found out and then getting shut down before anything happened. But in that same space, these people were relying on a lack of privacy off-line when they used taxi- driver gossip to further reach out to those without Facebook. They wanted to expose themselves so that they could hopefully reach a larger audience and gather more participants.
In America our understanding of privacy online is mostly focused on making sure our credit cards and social security numbers don’t get out, some people are very worried about the government getting to involved in their online activity but for the most part we have policies that allow us our privacy. Looking at other countries there are different concerns about privacy, the context changes and the policies are different. The Arab Spring really depended on privacy to have been able to reach out to the amount of people it reached. Not only was privacy important but faith in the privacy they had while organizing and feeling comfortable pushing their ideas to an unknown audience. Their faith seems to have paid off this time.