The Revolution Will Not Be Twittervised

As social media makes sharing much easier than thinking, Josh Osho wonders where the big ideas of the future are going to come from.

Sketch by Shawn Campbell on Flicker, via Creative Commons
Sketch by Shawn Campbell on Flicker, via Creative Commons

In the Thirties the television was switched on and all eyes turned in its direction, as one of mankind’s greatest revolutionary mechanisms. A gateway into worlds many were yet to see, a portal into affairs and struggles we previously stood unaware of. Fast forward to August 1991, the birth of the World Wide Web, a global phenomenon and arguably the most significant technological advancement in our lineage. What though seems apparent is that we are losing connection as we log on. Increasingly who we are and what we perceive is becoming externalised, looking at the future, our vision impaired.

Since then, we have built an ever-elaborating system with the ability to reach the furthest extents of the earth, through the expanding network of social media. It is providing bigger, alternative, readily-accessible sources and platforms for anyone with an internet connection and device. It has seen creatives from every race, creed, class and culture gifted with a media instrument to expose his or her expression, almost at will. The potential to connect with like-minded people, inspiration, perspectives, concepts and beliefs trading hands, unrestrained. We daily witness the world of politics referenced and redefined through the exchange of information in its rawest form. Articles and artifacts once limited and many a time malevolently withheld crawl their way up the intricate web of the internet, today in the firm grip of dominant social media.

Recently we experienced the world unite in opposition to the alleged Ugandan Guerilla tyrant Joseph Kony. In a moment, an awareness campaign #StopKONY, engulfed the internet community. Modern figureheads from every field, such as Piers Morgan, Russell Simmons, Oprah and Nicki Minaj showed their support for Uganda via Twitter as well as in all honesty my own stirring condemnation utilising the same platform. What surfaced however was that Uganda was not the terrorised, displaced, war-torn territory to the extents Jason Russell, the “Invisible Children” director, had portrayed. Arguably the murders and abductions had somewhat been over-emphasised or at least the fact the LRA Leader Joseph Kony had not been located in Uganda since 2005 and during the LRA’s 20-year span stand at their most lacking in number and potency was evaded .   There was widespread outrage among many Ugandan communities. A particularly interesting video I came across shortly after delving further was an address from the Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi denouncing the inaccurate distortion of the state of Uganda’s affairs. “It is as if Kony is still in Uganda, as if Uganda is still at conflict and yet of course we all know this is not true," he disclosed. Exactly what is and has occurred, as ever in the world of politics, is open to debate. I am by no means presenting any opposition or alignment with Kony or the situation in Uganda as universal truth. However, the unanimous, full-fledged compliance by many lacking any alternative insight or awareness of the matter, digesting just what was exhibited as a community subject to a mechanism that commands so much engagement yet is easily malleable, was startling.

Insight and awareness – words that were thoroughly associated with the #StopKONY campaign and many other social, political and creative moments we’ve peered at through the window of the internet. They are words also thoroughly associated with the internet as a tool for those concepts. But what exactly are we being given an insight into? What exactly are we becoming aware of? Like the case of the #StopKONY campaign, the internet and this new dawn of a social media community gives people the ability to engage with a freely accessible forum unreservedly. You can construct a profile, a persona, and a cyber reality that as far as the global community connected to the internet is concerned, bears no differentiation from the reality that we exist in on a day-to-day sensory basis. The internet, like its predecessor the television, is now generally accepted as “THE” luminary. Whether as a mechanism to inform us of the next big terrorist organisation coming to a town near you, or the next big YouTube sensation about to take the world by storm, it is a gateway that provides the opportunity to compose, construct and promote a reality to and by any of us who wish to project such, in spite of whether it is true to it’s creator or subject.

What I feel we are now approaching is a day where very few know who they really are or what they really want. Instead we just become pale imitations of who we think we should be. We spend so much time interacting with a cyber reality that many a time is premeditated and embellished, for specific intentions, whether “good” or “bad”. It comes with the perception that what we are being presented is true and definite and that we should accentuate these ideas and our connection with them. Rather than go inwards and connect with ourselves, compose our own perceptions, construct our own perspectives, design our own ideas, we continue to externalise our daily existence, reinforcing other peoples’ or groups’ ideas without challenge.

In doing so we move further away from our individuality, we move further away from self-expression, and draw closer to a passive, nullified version of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. As ever we see, feel, hear and touch, but no matter how diabolic, how sensational, how oppressive or how beautiful, we will continue to never truly feel inspired to genuinely interact with, challenge or change what we behold and thus I question: will the revolution be twittervised?

Josh Osho is a singer-songwriter from south London, and his latest video is "Even In War". He was interviewed by Alan White for newstatesman.com last year.