Thanks to one of my clients – The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and S. Indiana – I had a front row seat with members of the Tunisian revolution. (This does circle back to social media so stick with me). I admit, prior to the event, I knew little about Tunisia and I certainly couldn’t pick it out on a map. I did know that the Tunisians kicked off the Arab Spring. They were the first country in the region to overthrow theirdictator and you could say gave inspiration to nearby countries.
What struck me during the cultural conversation was one comment, spoken by one of the older Tunisians – “The youth had rocks and tires which they would set on fire, but the greatest weapon of the revolution was the mobile phone.”
After hearing their story, I have to admit it was true. The mobile phone allowed the people to continue to tell their story long after the traditional media had been shut down and the journalists jailed. The youth took photos and videos sharing them on Facebook and Twitter which were then used by media around the world.
I couldn’t help thinking of Mark Zuckerberg. When he created Facebook did he have any thought that one day this platform would give people the courage to overthrow a dictator? And it didn’t stop in Tunisia. The Tunisian youths taught the Egyptian youth how to best leverage social media along with other tips on surviving and winning a revolution. It was a sharing of best practices you could say.
The Tunisians are now in the rebuilding process and will start elections in October. Oh and by the way, this country went from one dictator to 107 political parties. Can you even imagine? I suppose they wanted choice.
Next time you take out your phone and fire off a tweet, give a second to think about the Tunisians and the power of social media. That phone of yours may one day be your most powerful weapon. You never know.