One of the biggest stories of 2011 was the use of social media in public displays and gatherings. 2011 was the year of Social Media. Here are some of the ways social media was used this year:
– The Arab Spring (uprisings in Egypt, Libya etc)
– Shaming rioters (Vancouver Canucks – hockey riot)
– Aiding people during riots in cities around the world (London, San Francisco)
– The Occupy movement
By now most people have heard of at least one of the uprisings in the Arab world, now collectively referred to as “The Arab Spring”. The most prominent in my mind were the ones in Egypt and Libya. This was major news for at least the first quarter of 2011. Mashable reported that social media had a significant impact on the world political scene. The uprisings began when, “a 26-year-old Tunisian vegetable vendor set himself on fire Dec. 17, 2010 after police stole produce from his stand. The suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, a college graduate unable to find work within his field of study, triggered a revolution in his home country that spread across the Arab world. Young Tunisians began organizing on Facebook and Twitter– with Bouazi as their role model — protesting the oppressive regime of the country’s 23-year President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.”
The Vancouver Canucks riot had a significantly negative impact on the City of Vancouver and may affect the tourism sector for some time to come due to the number of videos that were posted on services such as YouTube and Facebook. The effects on that sector may not be known for months or years but lets hope that people have a short memory and move on. Looking on the brighter side of things the riot did have a way of bringing the people of Vancouver together for the morning after clean up of rioters. The Vancouver Sun reported, “an estimated 15,000 people of all ages streamed into the heart of Vancouver as early as 5 a.m. to clean up the bloody footprints, scrub the offensive graffiti, to try to make amends for the damage cause by hooligans and looters after Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup loss.”
The number of riots around the world seemed to escalate in 2011. I don’t recall hearing of so much civil unrest in a single year. The most infamous of the 2011 riots was probably the one in London, England. A government review revealed that there was not any one single motivating factor for the riots and that “increasingly we live in a society where conspicuous consumption and self worth have become intrinsically interlinked. Some would argue consumerism is the ‘new religion’,” (source: The Telegraph) It was found that Twitter and other social media outlets did not have a part in inciting the rioters during the summer riots in London, but actually quite the opposite. “Twitter was a force for good during the summer riots, a study has found after analysing millions of messages posted.” (source: BBC News)
The Occupy Movement on the other hand thrived on the Twitter hashtag #occupy to fuel its demonstrations in cities around the world. Three hours ago @OccupyVancouver tweeted, “Raising the tax bracket is missing the point. The system is flawed. Thus we #Occupy.” I understand that the Occupy Movement is trying to make a point but the latest news stories are showing that the movement is losing ground and is targeting the jobs of regular laborers (the 99%) such as those at ports in Vancouver and Oakland. According to a CNN report, “they hurt the many businesses that pay taxes and help us create jobs,” Robert Bernardo, communications manager for the port, said.
2012 will be another interesting year as social media continues to become an integral part of everyone’s life. Do you know of any other interesting ways that social media was used in 2011? If so, please leave a comment below.