Intersections of religious, science and prophesies have pointed to a possibility of an apocalypse. It is of utmost importance to explore this subject as it increasingly impacts our lives. It is apparent that we are headed towards an existence that should make us all cow but for the sheer everyday struggle to wring a livelihood in the face of a heightened global economic adversity, we consciously or unconsciously ignore this worrisome trend.
The author’s outlook on this subject supports the eventual up-surge of global unrest. The rationale for this assumption is based on the observation of the dimensions of global events given the fact that the world is already a global village with advanced technology at the very heart of this new world order. Nonetheless, there also are the inputs of economics, mass psychology and the zeitgeist as the spur of the current global explosion of revolts. However, the author is most inclined to a technological-determinist explanation.
I once was at a meeting involving two big players in a thriving Nigerian industry and at the end of the meeting, I discovered that one of the two players was streaming the conversations of the meeting live to the head quarters for analysis and of course, evidence. A feat he was able to attain with his phone. First generation Nokia phones would only dream of achieving such, they couldn’t store mere voices as much as I can remember. My point being, If the Arab spring had happened in isolation, it could have been categorised as a belated aftershock of 1989, if the student unrest has been part of the normal cycle of youth revolt, it could have been quickly forgotten but the momentum gathered from Iran to Santa Cruz, to London, Athens and Cairo because of technology.
At the initial stage, global media engaged in a frantic and futile search for parallels, former director of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Nigel Inkster lamented “it’s a revolutionary wave, like 1848”. Some found comfort in analogies such as the fall of Berlin wall in 1989, some summed it all up as a re-play of Egypt’s 1905 or its 1917 but there is something that defies historical parallels, something new to do with technology, a new behaviour and a shift to a popular culture that propagates the flowering of collective action in defence of democracy, resurgence of the struggle of the poor and oppressed, and the expanded power of the individual (the protester).
For the first time in the history of the world, people are using methods of protests that do not seem archaic or at odds with the contemporary world. The protester seems more in-tuned with modernity than the methods of their rulers. It’s a movement without a name, a trend, a direction. It’s an idea-virus, an agility, an adaptability, a refusal to accept the old order, a refusal to get stuck in fixed patterns of thoughts. If you ask me why it’s happening now, I will say three things have since changed in the world socially, the demographics of revolt (graduates with no jobs), technology and human behaviour but with technology at the heart of it all.
The recent disturbing portrayal of Prophet Mohammed in a bad light is another example of how technology does fuel protests globally. Without technology, most Muslims across the Middle East and Africa wouldn’t even know of the story talk-more of staging an anti-west protest across these continents. Most of my Muslim friends in a bid to denounce the act of the director of the movie changed their display picture to a motif that states “our prophet, our honour”, an image that went viral, Muslim friends in Malaysia, Pakistan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia all had it as their display picture even at the writing of this article.
The world is heated up, to make matters worse, agro-based economies are experiencing unprecedented drought as a result of climate change. Food- affordable food-is essential to human survival and well being. Take that away and people become anxious, desperate and angry. All that is needed is a spark; the spark could come in any form such as police brutality, a movie, a show deemed immoral etc. Add technology to it and it becomes a viral concern. These are dangerous times, and we need to tread carefully.