Friday, February 11, 2011

Tweet Like an Egyptian

Above: A 1919 Egyptian uprising had a flag that clearly acknowledged the revolutionaries' debt to computers.
Like everyone else in the world I’ve been watching the events unfolding in Egypt with great concern. How can people be so cruel to one another? I’m referring, of course, to the shutdown of the internet and Twitter. It’s insidious.

We all know why it was done. The authorities felt besieged by revolutionaries. Naturally, they (the authorities) sought to deprive the revolutionaries of their power, so they unplugged them. I’m sure I would have done the same, if I were a dictatorial regime propped up by a rich foreign power, because I am also a walking moral vacuum, abhorred by nature.

That got me thinking, though. How would the history of the world been different if this sort of cruel drastic measure had been resorted to in the past?

For example, we’ve all heard of the American Revolution, and how, because of it, we live in George Washington State, instead of George William Frederick State, and we call ourselves Americans, after the continent, instead of British, after the fraction of the island. These are good things. But what would have happened had King George III done what Mubarak did, and cut off the colonists’ internet and Twitter?

One good thing: I’m sure that if they were cut off early enough the Boston Tea Party couldn’t have happened. They could never have pulled off that kind of organization without the aid of selectively distributed electronic communication. Consequently there would be no Tea Bagger Party today, which would be a relief. On the other hand, we wouldn’t know they could have existed, so we wouldn’t feel the relief, so we’d just complain about some other yahoos. Probably the Australians.

Then there’s the Declaration of Independence, which I learned in school was actually finished on MySpace, a sucky 18th Century predecessor of Facebook, on July 2, 1776, and only tweeted two days later. The British people were having their own problems and King George had already (this is real history!) shut down Twitter on their island. That’s why the British, including King George himself, didn’t know about the Declaration of Independence tweet until weeks later, when the ban was lifted and someone did a #revolution search.

That was what did happen. But if King George had shut down the internet and Twitter in the colonies that summer, the American colonists wouldn’t have been able to declare independence, so they wouldn’t know they were really having a revolution. No one would ever know they could pursue happiness, so we’d all be couch potatoes today.

No one would know what a “John Hancock” was. If you said to someone “put your John Hancock there,” they’d think you meant something dirty.

That’s just one minor revolution, hardly even the most serious one! What about the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the Velvet Revolution, the Velcro Revolution?

As we know now, without the internet and Twitter, none of those revolutions could have happened. Now I’m sure that some of you would say, good riddance to bad history. But you aren’t thinking how cool it was that all that went down. Just the French Revolution, for example, got us “Let them eat cake” and guillotines. Come on! That’s some cool s#*t!

Further hypotheticals to learn by:

It’s long been said that if the internet had never existed, children wouldn’t have learned violence from internet games. Discuss how the absence of violent tendencies among children would have affected history. First, pay attention to the Childrens’ Crusades, the development of the Mother Goose rhyming industry, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the world-wide stick and rock trade. Then, look away.

It’s also long been an established truism that without internet porn, men would never view women as sex objects. What would they have viewed as sex objects instead? List five possibilities and their relative likelihoods. Take into account the prevailing forms of agribusiness in ancient times and more recently, the rise of little tiny battery powered thingies.

1 comment:

gregspencewolf said...

Mubarak shut down the internet, but he lost the battle anyways. I guess the Egyptians didn't need the internet.


I held a show tonight, and over half the people who came don't have facebook accounts.