Do You Hear The People Sing?

Worldwide communication has advanced leaps and bounds over the past couple years. With the huge spread of Facebook, Twitter, and video streaming sites such as Livestream, anyone with a cell phone can keep updated and informed about world politics. On my phone, I get notifications from CNN, KGW, NYT, and Time. Through these apps I have become more and more interested in politics. This is one of the major reasons I signed up for this class.

The other day I was scrolling through a bunch of tabs when I noticed a particularly powerful post:

 

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For those who don’t know, the images, in order, are of protests in Ferguson, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Hong Kong (again), Palestine, and Egypt. The song referenced in this image is Do You Hear the People Sing? from the broadway musical Les Misérables, which follows the story of a failed attempt at the french revolution in 1832. I find this image particularly powerful for two reasons: 1) because the song has always made me what to rise up and fight for what I believe in and 2) because I have noticed the theme of this song in the recent Hong Kong movement.  The author, whether intentionally or not, has created a comparison between the European revolutions of that time and these modern movements and protests. Not to say that in these places, they are set back however many years, but that they have hit some kind of tipping point with their governments. I’m not going to go into each individual example. I am weary to make sweeping statements about them as a whole, as each had very different circumstances, but what they do all have in common is this deep rooted connection with social media.

A the world become more and more connected, atrocities and violations of basic human rights are heard around the world. I was driving to school one day and hear an interesting comment on a radio show, where the host stated that, “Twitter has become the judge and the jury.” He cast it in a negative light, however, I find this to be an example of democracy. I don’t agree that you can call it the “judge and the jury”, but I see it as a way for everyone to be informed. Access to information is an important human right and through these sites everyone has a way to feel like their voices are heard.

I have written quite a few times about my love of live streaming. To me, live streaming is the purest form of news. There is no editing or anyone imposing their ideas on the subject. It’s just constant footage. There is something so powerful about being able to feel like you’re there, watching the image shake as protestors stamp the ground. One of my favorite events I’ve watched was the Wendy Davis filibuster in the Texas Senate a few years ago. The camera was set up in the front row of seats around the senators and you could hear every rude comment and chant from the crowd. Although you are not directly helping the cause with your physical body, watching a live stream is the closest some can get to being able to participate and show their support. I was watching a live stream of the Hong Kong protests and there were around 20,000 people watching.

These ideas all come together for me with the above image. To me, it shows the modern age of connection, with a young generation of people strongly informed and passionate. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that social media is a great starting point for a revolution and a way to maintain momentum (something that has been the downfall of many revolution attempts), but by no means is social media the only way to overthrow a government or change policy. It takes hard work, dedication, people in the streets fighting for what they believe in, but these social media systems, as we saw in Egypt, can help bring people together and unite them.

(Image from: http://babykanima.tumblr.com/post/98986154336)

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