Anyone remember the Arab Spring? You know where the various peoples of generally Arab North Africa had their erstwhile pro-democracy uprisings taken over by western media as the soon to be salad days of when all government bowed to Big Tech’s1 subsuming Cloak of Enlightenment? Anyone remember that bit?
The silence from the the manicured campuses of Northern California on the subject was deafening. This is why you don’t remember it. The silence is as pervasive and deafening as it was during various elections and election scandals and misinformation congressional hearing upon hearing in the past four years.
The various peoples of the region2 did take things into their hands and people did vote with their tapping fingers, but also more importantly with ballots, bricks and bullets to get a change. Unfortunately that change was largely to either political Islam or another dictator. Not very Silicon techno-libertarian cyber-utopian is it?
So social media giants are no longer taking credit for kicking it off, not as it morphed into the utter inconceivable mess that is Syria today. But I’m sure there’s a startup and an app for the intractable shit-storm going down right now. Nothing a couple fussball tables and a Kickstarter couldn’t sort out I’m sure.
We sat by and watched social media’s revolution in Syria and Iraq which was chock full of tweeting, posts, and snaps – but of calls for jihad, snuff beheading and grooming of 15 year old kids to move to a war-zone for a death cult. Talk about ‘game changing’. The social media giants were obviously not to keen on claiming credit for kicking that off, which they aided. As they weren’t for Rohingya either. If a cabal of companies wanted to claim credit for tech-enabled hyper-capitalism masquerading as something akin to the civil rights movement, then it should duly claim credit for the ensuing aftermath of roughly 30 million people being pulled out of the frying pan and plopped into the fire.
But that was 2010 you might say. It was different then. ISIS is gone3, and things have returned to normal. Tell this to someone living in Libya how things are fine now and tech can and has saved us all. Things have not largely gotten better for the region and if anything internecine and overlapping conflicts where even the combatants aren’t sure what’s going4 on have become the rule. None of it makes sense and yet completely does as the expose the rule of network decay and techno-optimism again getting quite a bit ahead of itself. When you think back to 2010, you need to realise this is a part of the world that is largely divided along lines drawn in 661 AD. So those 10 years are drop, a blip on the map of time we have already forgotten as the news cycle moves on and brushes the bad news away for something closer to home that can get a couple more clicks.
I don’t like using this name by the way, but what else have we got? ↩︎
There’s no definitive limit on what constituted the Arab Spring. Nominally it included Tunisia where it began, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. It, however, had much wider effects regionally in countries such as Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Sudan ↩︎
Or are they? Not quite yet…or ever. ↩︎
Case in point: Turkish backed Sunni Mercenaries flown to fight in Azerbaijan only to find out they’re fighting for, not against Shia against Armenia. ↩︎