As Egypt erupted in a flurry of activity the past few weeks, people all over the world watched in stupor as the Twitter and Facebook activity moved from virtual to actual. Egyptians protesters gathered on Facebook, then gathered in the streets, stating their demands on Twitter and through blogs.
In the states and around the world, we’ve watched as the revolution erupted suddenly. We’ve watched, fascinated by the oft respectful nature of the protesters, who clean their own streets, rather than trash them. We’ve watched, fascinated by how pervasive social networking is among Egyptians, how quickly information traveled, how effectively and peacefully Egyptians gathered for the protests.
I’m not the most up-so-speed on the latest techno-gadgets. I still have yet to get a smart phone and was reluctant to set up a Twitter account. But I’ve been watching how much technology is changing how we do business, communicate and relate to the world.
I recently purchased an old typewriter, a 1940s Smith-Corona silent in great condition and the satisfying CLACK of keys with each letter. Writing letters takes great time and thought with a typewriter–no backspace, auto-correcting my fluttering fingers’ gibberish. The past few months I’ve been writing letters on the Smith-Corona to my older family members. Both my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather have written back, sharing stories about their lives in the heart of the twentieth century. My grandfather (father’s father) and both his brothers served in WWII. My great grandparents wrote to their overseas sons frequently, until the family received a telegram that the oldest son had been injured in Sicily and was hospitalized. My grandfather’s mother wrote to her injured eldest son every day after the telegram.
Three months went by with no word. No letter, no phone call. Until one day a telegraph arrived stating that the son had died just one day after his injury. It took three solid months of waiting in limbo for the parents to learn their son had been killed.
For most of us in the digital world that kind of delay in information is unthinkable and barbaric. As I watched, in real time, the protests in Tahrir Square and the announcement of Mubarek’s defeat, I feel incredibly lucky to have such powerful modes of communication. We wield the power of instantaneous communication with both friends and strangers, on a global scale, with the same ideological ideas and goals.
We’re truly lucky to have our revolution televised.