The jury may be out on the long term effects social media has on individuals and their real life relationships with other humans (face to face), but it certainly impresses with its ability to focus and enable the collective will of everyday people who want political change in their respective countries.
It all started with Mohamed Bouazizi, the humble Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself alight to protest the corruption and repression that would not allow him to make a living. Bouazizi likely never had a Facebook or Twitter account, perhaps never owned a cell phone. But many of his fellow citizens did and they used all of the above plus YouTube to record the resulting, forbidden protests and uploaded the video for all the world to see.
Several months and several countries later, the hunger and demand for change has come to Russia. Although technically a democracy since 1991, Russia under Putin has slipped back into some of the old totalitarian ways, and since the December 4th elections, many citizens have decided that they have had enough.
In the past few years several journalists have been killed or beaten up for stories they have written about corruption in high places. Now bloggers have taken up the call for change in their country by rallying support to deny Putin’s bid to become President once again in March 2012. Given the history of their country, to say that these bloggers and the protestors that rely on them are a brave bunch is an understatement. But more and more citizens are starting to feel like they have already crossed the Rubicon and to remain silent is to give up on their future.
One way or another 2012 promises to be another pivotal year in the long history of Russia.