Creative Writing On Arab Spring: The Promise
Arab Spring: The Promise
The Arab Spring has come as a surprise for Arab ruling regimes, sociopolitical research platforms as well as protesters. True, sporadic unrests in different Arab Spring countries were observed by rulers, commentators and activists. However, few, if any, expected demands by few groups to break into full-fledged mass protests, ousting powerful regimes established for decades. Initial, individual sparks helped fuel first waves of mass protests as images of extreme repression and corruption poured into social media websites. The gross and historical insults, amassed over years, culminated in unprecedented mass protests in which waves and waves of protesters dominated Arab Spring streets, all being overwhelmed by a sense of a brave new world. The potential did, indeed, appear so great no one could anticipate which directions could such waves of protests lead to. Further, by raising ceilings of expectations, activists as well as mass protesters all appeared to share a common faith in change using social networks – alone. True, social networks proved indispensible in mobilizing masses and organizing offline meetings. However, as matters stand – at least in so far as developments on ground are occurring – social networks have continued to fail to deliver on promise. That is, repeatedly, after mobilizing masses in later waves of first major outbreak wave of protests, social networks could not substantiate actual changes in reality. Instead, page after page and post after post, content continued to amass on Arab Spring domains of protest but to no actual effect on ground. Further, counter-uprising forces managed at some points to manipulate protesters and confuse causes, goals and histories. To social network activists, so to speak, acts of blogging, content sharing and online mobilization efforts (manifest in activities such as soliciting support from influential, active users and publishing calls in as many platforms as possible) became circular acts of self-addressing by which active, protester users circulate same content over and gain with no direct or foreseeable impact on ground.
Two interesting developments emerge, however, for all sins of social networks. If anything, social networks during Arab Spring have led to patterns which appear to be promising for a better Arab future.
One interesting pattern which seems likely to develop further into further future is impact of Arab Spring on longevity of authoritarian regimes (Bellin, 2012). By surprising authoritarian regimes and commentators alike, Arab spring protests have apparently created a momentum for democratic conversion which is not likely to be reversed. That is, by abruptly cutting off long-established rules, Arab Spring protests have ushered in new logic about long rule in general and democratic governance in particular. If anything, masses long repressed by authoritative regimes are no longer permissive of involuntary rule. Given recent developments since regime collapse, impatient protesters in Tunisia and Egypt removed uprising heroes after not only dismaying performance but also one which appeared to revisit practices just fresh in memories. This has been particularly manifest in Egypt in which first "freely" elected Egyptian president was removed from power only one year after installation against controversies over national security compromises and "signs" of despotic rule most manifest in a widely discredited presidential provisional charter. Likewise, in Tunisia, a once national champion of human rights and political independence, Tunisia's elected president, right after country's popular uprising, was removed in a subsequent presidential election in what appears to be a new vote of confidence of not only Tunisian people but also Arab Spring countries' for new presidents. Indeed, not only have peoples of Arab Spring countries began to participate actively in political game but also to refuse to grant a blank cheque for any new president – however freely elected he is. The longevity, hence, of Arab Spring rulings are now not only under intense scrutiny but is no longer becoming a viable option.
A second interesting pattern in post-Arab Spring uprisings is rates of using social media (Wolfsfeld, Segev & Sheafer, 2013). Unsurprisingly, if social media has come to be a major harbinger for Arab Spring uprisings, active participants in protests as well as less active observers have come to adopt social media as a preferred channel of communication not only for political reasons but also for very different reasons.
Notably, most dominant segment in adopting social media as a chosen channel of communication is younger generations of Arab protesters. A closer examination of social media content shared among users of social networks – based primarily on age group segmentation – reveals younger generations of participants are most concerned about causes and issues most connected to concerned group. Indeed, as post-Arab Spring political waters continue to shove less experienced political groups – particularly young groups – younger generations of protesters have found solace in social media as harbingers of change, a change which is not radically political but one which is informed by more personal and professional choices of individual users. This is, in fact, a promising pattern. By investing more and more in social and professional issues, younger generations of protesters and non-protesters could engage more aggressively with social media's broader, global community, accumulate gradual social changes in respective communities and hence achieve much aspired change in less political means. Moreover, given current global patterns of social networking – in which collaboration and work standards are redefined – younger generations in Arab Spring countries could, by further engagement, enhance public advocacy literacy in respective communities and hence better rationalize earlier practices of initial protest waves characterized most by instability, lack of direction (and often vision), swift changes and sweeping, unplanned decisions. In addition to public advocacy as well as personal and professional opportunities of broader engagement, a more extensive and intensive usage of social media is more likely bound to promote new forms of communication and community engagement in a region much suppressed at different platforms of not only political but also personal and professional expression. Put differently, by promoting new channels of communication across different social media platforms, Arab Spring countries could be bound for an unprecedented social change – again initiated by social media but will only be sustained by efforts of peoples.
Bellin, E. (2012). Reconsidering the Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Lessons from the Arab Spring. Comparative Politics [Online] 44(2), p. 127-149. ingentaconnect. doi: 10.5129/001041512798838021 [Accessed: 16th April, 2015]
Wolfsfeld, G., Segev, E., & Sheafer, T. (2013). Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First. The International Journal of Press/Politics [Online] 18(2), p. 115-137. Sage Journals. doi: 10.1177/1940161212471716 [Accessed: 16th April, 2015]