Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire, the former U.N. general who has been recognized internationally for his peacekeeping efforts during the Rwandan Genocide, says that social media could be changing the world we live in.
“We are in an era of conflict with a certain world disorder, a time of revolutions, with the communications revolution being one,” Senator Dallaire tells Huffington Post Canada.
Mr. Dallaire says that young people around the world are politically engaged and are using the technology that’s already at their fingertips to challenge entrenched leaders and to entice their peers to become involved in the struggle for freedom and self-determination.
“It’s starting. We are entering an era where the revolution in communications is empowering the under-25s and they’re able to start realizing that they can coalesce in real-time around the world,” he says. “They’re also getting more information about what’s going on around them, whether they want it or not, because it’s all being punched out every minute.”
Mr. Dallaire says that even the young people in his home and native land of Canada are beginning to sense their political power, which he suggests is something new for this generation.
He noted that when a Parliamentary page, Brigette DePape, held up a sign that said ‘Stop Harper’ (Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada) last summer during a throne speech, it may have been a tipping point for Canadian youth.
“The gesture of that young page in the Senate has got to be one of the most significant expressions of opinion of that generation of under-25s has yet seen in this country,” he says.
Just about a month after that peaceful political act in Canada, Vancouver-based Adbusters suggested that protesters take inspiration from the Arab Spring and tweeted the hashtag #OccupyWallStreet.
Mr. Dallaire, for his part, finds inspiration in the Occupy movement, which he calls ‘magnificent’. “It’s been since the ‘60s that we’ve waited for something like this,” he says, adding “the greed side of capitalism irks me significantly.”
When a major figure in international politics like Senator Dallaire says that Twitter and other social media could be the key to challenging unpopular governments and leaders, one can be fairly certain that a paradigm shift has taken place.
“It’s interesting how the (communications) revolution will influence the future. It’s something to be watched,” he says. “Are the political elites fast enough on their feet to stay ahead of the game? Let’s say they’re holding their own, barely.”
Whatever happens around the world in the next few years, one thing is certain: people will be tweeting about it!
Talk To Us! Has social media truly changed the nature of popular protests or is that notion just a lot of hype?
Image source: eVeritas