Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Social Media Revolution

A few weeks ago, I watched Persepolis. Afterwards, I sat down on my computer and composed an email to someone about how I felt after watching this film. The email talked about how I felt like my parents had grown up in a time that I will only experience by immersing myself in old newspaper clippings and video clips. They lived in a time of revolution, of change, of people fighting for what they believed in, and they were happy, because they had accomplished something. I wanted to feel this something.
I think back to when I was 16. I felt it, slightly, only because it was for a terribly short time. For two weeks one summer I lived in a refugee camp, under curfew, playing cards, drinking tea and conversing with the native people, my people. I waited, uncertain about the outcome. To the occupants of this camp, I was temporary. A child living amongst them for two weeks, who will return home to the parallel universe she lives in. I did return, reluctantly in fact, but I didn't forget. Out of the 23 years I have lived, those two weeks were the only time I can say I actually felt like I had lived.
Currently, if you turn your television on, if you read the newspaper and surf the internet, you come across a sea of people marching through the streets, demanding to be heard. And this image prompted me to think to myself, "this is happening, this is really happening, in fact, it's occurring during my time!" And although I am far away, and even as a non-Iranian, I feel their courage and I hear their voices. Iran's approach to change is fascinating. In the 1970s when Iranians were desperate for a change in government (under the Shah's rule), they found comfort in the teachings of an older man named Ruhollah Khomeini, a man who promised to transform the government. And although the drastic change that took place in 1979 was not the utopia Iran envisioned for itself, Khomeini did something cutting-edge when he spread this revolution. This idea is what is now helping the Iranian people send their message to the world. Back in the 1970s, Khomeini under exile in France, used one of the first forms of social media. He recorded his messages and teachings on audio cassettes which were then passed around and inevitably helped cause the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Right now, the people of Iran, whose votes in a faulty election need a voice, are using today's popular forms of communication to spread their message. Like Khomeini's cassettes, Iranians are using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs to arrange protests aimed at getting their votes for Mousavi back, regardless of their geographical locations. Even as the Iranian government attempts to block access to social networking websites in order to prevent the people from marching, this tenacious people have managed to flood the internet with information regarding the current situation. People are listening, even changing their Twitter time to Iran's time, in order to help Iranians safely spread their message and fool the government. a revolution. unity. fighting the status quo and rising up for what you believe. And what will get your voices heard.

Robert Fisk on Iran:


  1. thats deep. my heart goes out to them and I hope they succeed.

    Hopefully, their actions can also encourage Iran's neighbours, and prove that these things are possible.

  2. This was an incredible article Danah. As an Iranian, Thank you.