LIST: Social Media and Cell Phones are the New Guns for Change
Social Media and Cell Phones are the New Guns of Change
The gun control issue just got a lot more complicated. It’s beginning to look more and more like cell phones and social media, can be just as, or more deadly, as an automatic rifle, which begs the question, “is it really guns and cell phones that kill? Or people?”. I’m going with people.
Before you scrunch your panties up in a wad about the comparison of the two technologies (guns v cell phones), try to remember the second amendment, the one about the “right to bear arms,” is not about hunting deer or home invasions. It was written by men who feared the power of government to subjugate the people it was created to serve.
“Bearing arms isn’t about owning guns as much as it’s about owning the right technology to meet the force of government with equal force in order to remain free men and women.”
The most fascinating observation that emerged during the social media explosion after the Boston Marathon bombing was the reality that social media moves people to act in defense of themselves and their friends far faster, and in greater numbers, than gun ownership ever could.
While few understood that “sheltering-in” is a socially engineered phrase for “martial law,” that won’t last long. Those who did understand the difference between a “request” and an order under threat of death, were those who experienced the invasion of their homes and lives by armed SWAT teams in search of the surviving bomber. In the coming months and years more will wake up to the distinction, and it will be because of the power of social media spreading the word that “sheltering-in” is not a request, but an order. But back to cell phones as potential weapons.
1. Most research figures claim at least two-thirds of the world, yes—including third world countries where people live on less than a dollar a day—are armed with cell phones. In addition to socializing and shooting YouTube videos of IEDs blowing up American military convoys, Jihadists use cell phones for setting off bombs and planning terror attacks as well. It’s hard to track their Facebook action as most of their groups are closed.
2. Americans too use cell phones to spark social change. From ghetto teenagers tweeting flash mobs, to college students tweeting protests, cell phones are forcing social change like no other weapon before.
Unfortunately for all Americans, the second amendment right in the United States, the one where our right to bear arms, is being challenged, didn’t include the right to cell phones. Fortunately, cell phones, Facebook and social media are covered in the first amendment.
Who could have foreseen the power of the possession of a camera; a phone and the power to connect with thousands of like-minded people via social media would become far more deadly and capable of disrupting an oppressive government than any amount of ordnance?
When the bomb at the finish line in Boston went off, allegedly due to a cell phone signal, there were a thousand other phones firing too—phones that helped capture and confirm the identity and location of the Boston Bombing brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Victims, witnesses and the media all used the power of social media to capture a terrorist. And that same alleged terrorist used the same social media to get his message out. Regardless of who believed it, we heard it. Having a voice is powerful. Keeping people from having a voice, or a say was how kings and Popes controlled their subjects for centuries. It’s how China keeps (or tries to) its population in control. A voice with access to the world is the most powerful tool of change, or force on the planet.
Mark Horvath, founder of InvisiblePeople.tv and WeAreVisible.com knows the power of social media to turn around the lives and fortunes of the homeless. He’s working hard to get social media in the hands and consciousness of the most powerless people in America–the homeless. A cell phone is a powerful tool, and social media in right hands is the equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction, or social reconstruction and change. It just depends on the person(s) holding the tool.
Two days after the bombings Brown University student Sunil Tripathi, went missing. His disappearance wasn’t random, but calculated, and horribly sad. After main stream media and social media sources began posting on Twitter and Facebook that Tripathi might be one of the two bombers portrayed in grainy FBI photos, Tripathi left his wallet, cell phone and keys and walked out of his apartment for the last time. He walked the few blocks to the river, a security camera photo of the back of his bowed head obscured by a hooded sweatshirt, the last picture of him anyone would take.
He would not be seen again until the Brown University crew team found his body floating in the river only blocks away from his apartment, an apparent victim of suicide. His family and friends tell the media he was deeply depressed and hurt by allegations on social media, in the news and on television that labeled him a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
His family and friends conducted an immediate search for him once they realized he had gone missing, but they were too late. Social media was not. In their race for news fodder the daily news with their breaking announcements and perfectly coiffed and made-up “anchor men and women reporting from the scene,” had taken another victim with their random, opinionated and unsubstantiated cell phones and tweets. Not another shot had to be fired.
Social media is deadly. Just ask any of the parents and friends of those bullied online across the country who have also committed suicide over false allegations, taunts and threats. Cell phones, like guns, are only as dangerous as the person who owns them. Combine a cell phone with social media and a natural leader, disgruntled religious zealot or visionary, and the most powerful army on earth suddenly emerges—an army no government on earth can control without killing it’s own economy.
Tripathi is as much a victim of the Boston bombings as any of those others killed in the explosion; yet it’s doubtful he’ll be portrayed as such.
The effects of the photos, videos, tweets and Facebook post have the potential to do tremendous good, they can also cause far more damage than any hollow point on the market.
If you carry a cell phone, understand its potential to help or to harm and point it carefully. You potentially hold the lives of thousands in your hands.
Becky Blanton was a TED Global speaker at Oxford in 2009. She’s a former journalist who currently is a full-time ghostwriter. She collaborates on books, ebooks, business books and corporate biographies with a variety of clients. She travels with her Rottweiler when possible and appreciates dog friendly destinations.
You can find her on Twitter: @beckyblanton