I woke up this morning wondering what I should get for breakfast, and what kind of grocery should I buy on my way to school. I then turned on my computer and this is the first thing that I see.
“IRAN WARNS OF DEATH FOR “RIOTERS”…AS 500,000 FILL THE STREETS ”
These words where slammed onto the front page of the Huffington Post website. In a position that is impossible for visitors to ignore. The font size was huge and the color was red, echoing with it’s own stunning words.
I’ve been following this particular piece of news on the Huffington post and the New York Times website ever since the protest started. Despite the fact that the Iranian government have banned the broadcast of every foreign news agency, locked the reporters in hotels and warned the camera mans that their life will not be guaranteed. Words still spread out, and this time not through smuggling video tapes or risking reporters life to escort materials out of the country, but through the help of modern technology. The internet, or I might as well say the “twitts”, has been playing an increasingly important role in the protest.
“If” in the end this protest really leads to another revolution in Iran, this would probably be the first revolution in our history to be tightly connected and influenced by the internet. This would be a revolution not just in the reform of a country, but also a breakthrough in the cyberspace. I still remember when twitter first came out a few years ago, me and my friends were one of the early users of the online community. We never really got adapted to it, and we weren’t even excited about it. I personally even felt the interface design was a disaster, and I made a prediction thinking that it would die away within a year. That was two to three years ago and obviously I was wrong in many ways. In the year 2009, celebrities “twitt”, politicians “twitt”, candidates “twitt”, CNN “twitts” and now the people leading a revolution in Iran, relies on “twitts” to broadcast themselves to the world. The once “tell me what your doing and where you are” message board, suddenly becomes the media outlet of an uprising revolution. It’s the first time for an online community to be so tightly connected with a major social event.
However, the world we live in today is a very unbalanced one. In many cases, those who have the power to access technology also holds the key to absolute dominance. The protestors in Iran, in which most of them are supporters of the opposition party and the ones who claimed the ruling party’s victory as a “stolen victory”. The majority of these protesters(opposition party) are from the urban areas of Iran, many of them live in big cities like “Tehran”. They are by contrast more educated, wealthier and have more access to computers than the supporters of the ruling party, where most of them live in suburban or undeveloped parts of the country. The result of the presidential election ended in a landslide victory with Ahmadinejad(ruling party) winning over 60% of the votes. The opposition won less than 40%, and they say this was a rigged election.
But is it?
With a margin larger than 20%, lots of specialist say it is unlikely that this election was rigged. However, the truth is we will never know unless the President himself comes out and confess to the public. So what if it wasn’t a rigged election, and what if the leader of the opposition party was actually a wolf in a sheep’s cloth? He and his supporters starts a revolution based on a fact that they can’t even prove to be true, and what the world only hears is the voice of the opposition’s protestors, because the rest of people in the country doesn’t have an equal opportunity to express themselves to the world. Then is this real democracy?
I’m not implying that the opposition party is untruthful in what they say and I do agree that Mr. Mousavi is a better person to be elected. I especially support his policies in women’s rights in Iran, and I believe that he has the ability to lead the country to a better future. But what I’m trying to point out, is the consequence that we might be facing when our world relies more and more on the internet world. Equal accessibility to the freedom of speech, should be as important as the election itself. For more then ten years specialists have been predicting a future of no newspapers and a world of immediate synchronization with everyone. After the dot com bubble exploded, we all wondered when will that day come true. Now we are finally here(or entering that world), at an era where newspapers have been defeated by the almighty internet monsters, and the idea of immediate update has been pushed from daily news updates to 24hrs news channels and finally to updating in just a blink of an eye. The only question left is, are you ready? Or maybe I should ask, are “we” ready?