Of The Hashtag Generation And Internet ShutDown

I don’t know about the history of the internet but I am sure I could Google it up and find out; that’s the beauty of the internet, information is geometrically a click away across time and space.

I am a millennial which means I was born somewhere between the years 1981 and 1994/6  reaching adulthood in the 2000s (and not ama 2000s as would seem the more logical misinterpretation of Generation Z)

I walk a weird line of being part of two generations one that remembers life before the internet and the generation who cant imagine life without the internet. Depending on the generation and exposure, for some the internet is simply Social Media a place for just vibes, and for The Hashtag Generation, Social Media and The Internet have evolved from just vibes into a something beyond simple comprehension, disruptive and informative for better or worse….

The global word has had eyes on the United States following its unfortunate state of affairs, especially with how America seems to be the self-appointed watchdog on democracy and custodian of the world’s human rights. I will confess that I still admire the strong institutions in America which prevented the situation from devolving into something far worse had this happened closer to home the outcome would have been… lets just say different.

Picture it Internet platforms unanimously deciding to remove a president from their services, the man might be president but the pseudo-world of the internet has its own rules.

Platforms banning or restricting Trump
Making History

I used to have a header image on my Twitter profile proclaiming that: The Revolution will be Tweeted.

The revolution will be tweeted

Social Media can spark a rebellion, a revolution or even an insurrection…

Traditionally governments have been able to spin the narrative by controlling The Media with the only thorn in their sides being rogue journalists and independent media houses. The battle for information was somewhat manageable until in came The Internet and Social Media granting; hitherto stifled voices with a space to rant, vent, congregate… and inevitably rebel.

There’s research which shows that the algorithm for some popular social media platforms is designed to outrage and bring out a strongly emotive response to the things happening around you… you are not imagining it, social media feeds on triggering your rage.

Totalitarian governments are waking up to how the internet and Social Media can easily erode their veneer of control especially when the world’s collective indignation is rallied around a hashtag to witness the atrocities they are alleged to have committed both real and falsified.

Once upon a time they had the monopoly on propaganda now anyone with an internet connection and a phone or laptop can easily become a formidable adversary, at least in the court of public opinion. Online streets are the new battlegrounds and courtrooms.

Varakashi

Our president is on record for telling his supporters to go online, on social media and do their patriotic duty. These patriotic supporters are known as Varakashi who will not allow anyone to speak ill of president and country.

Its become a trend to throttle the internet, restrict some access to services or even just to shut down the internet. A number of African countries have resorted to this especially during elections and periods of protest and in the blackout away from watching eyes undocumented acts of tyranny are carried out.

Governemt ordered Internet blackout
An Internet Black Out

I have lived through a couple of internet blackouts, after social media and the internet were cited as being used by rogue elements to incite people to violence. Like kids who are behaving badly and sent to the naughty corner, no more internet for you. The verdict is still out for whether governments have the power to shut down the internet or if it should be classified a gross human rights violation without even taking into consideration what happens under the covers of a black out.

As I write this post I am worried about my friends in Uganda. They are going to the polls today I really want to be proven wrong that elections make a difference… because if they did they would have been shutdown too… Through the internet and this blog I have come to know Uganda and it feels like a second home to me… and oh how similar our stories can be.

After Facebook blocked accounts linked to President Museveni’s campaign, the president showed them who is bad by directing service providers to restrict access to social media platforms starting with Facebook. But that wasn’t exactly effective thanks to their Social Media tax regulation which has taught Ugandans not to be a stranger to VPNs (yes they have Social Media Tax and if my government is reading this and thinking of adopting it, save yourself a battle you will not win).

Museveni switches off internet in Uganda ahead of polls

Currently there is total shutdown of internet services in Uganda (till further notice) One of the last things I saw on the internet was military tanks were patrolling the streets of Kampala and there have been reports of violent clampdown of opposition members.

Who knows what else is happening or not happening and cant ask any of my friends they are offline and unreachable, it may not be as bad as it sounds but it could be worse too, that’s the thing when you have no way of knowing…

The trending hashtag is #WeAreRemovingADictator and #UgandaDecides2021 they aren’t online to hashtag it but I am Uganda and the world is watching.

The revolution will not be livestreamed
The revolution will not be brought to you fleets, snaps, pins and tweets
The revolution will not be tweeted
The internet will be switched off
The revolution will be offline
The revolution will not be unwitnessed at the flip of a switch
The world will witness with hashtags, retweets and livestreams
The revolution will be interrupted by pop up adverts
then distracted by viral challenges and dank memes
The revolution cannot be stopped
It will be brought to you by end to end encryption
And the internet which never forgets
The revolution will be hashtagged by the hashtag generation

~B

*Closing poetry inspired by Gil Scott-Heron’s epic song/poem The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

31 Comments

    1. thank you
      I hope it all turns out …peaceful.
      Writing this article I was wondering if politics and democracy have always been so full of BS or has the internet made it so that all these things suddenly become visible
      ~B

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is one of the few upsides of the internet. Things have always been this way. It’s only that we get to see and realise it now

        Like

  1. Beaton you have touched on an very pertinent subject. With the state of the world economy it is just possible that if it crashed due to our current problems, we would all, or many of us, be without internet. Those would be interesting times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, we have come to outsource a lot of ourselves to the internet including our morals and intelligence, without it, we would be fumbling about in the dark like before electricity was invented 🤣🤣
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a world it is we live in where the leaders show and hide in equal measure on and off the internet, afraid the world might see their wrongs. I hope it goes well just like you say 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to trust the leaders of the world when we know everything they say and do is so calculated and it’s not even for the common good as they seem to make it.

      I hope everything goes well too or rather I hope it’s at least peaceful because even though I haven’t heard much news from there I almost know how it will play out…
      Thank you Simon
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Social media has become a powerful platform to connect with people. It’s like everyone knows each others thoughts and they are seen and heard when they speak. It amplifies what the common people has to say and I think it has become some sort of an outlet for the people to come together during these times no matter where they are. Praying for Uganda at this moment. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Social media certainly does have its moments…. And like powerful platforms it’s capable of both being useful and also devastating.

      Thank you Elle
      ~B

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think the example of Uganda is a great warning of what is to come anywhere else in the world. It’s absolutely insane.
    I remember back when the news was the news. They reported it and that was that. Then, there were overtly labeled opinion pieces in which the author would share their spin on things. I’m all good with that, but not with news that is filled with opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One can’t even trust the news to not present opinion as news and worse to present half-truths and even downright falsehoods as truths.

      Still haven’t heard from Uganda predictably maybe news reports are still doing their spinning

      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They did finally switch it on because they too needed it. They couldn’t bank and immigration could not process them to fly out for treatment in Nairobi.

    Thanks to the Internet people single handedly change history like Julian Assange

    The Internet is a double edged sword

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you had predicted that by Monday they would probably have to turn it back as “they” have links with MTN and cant afford to have not making money…

      Just reminded that one of the times when we had an internet shutdown the president and his entourage had gone to that Davos World Economic Forum and they had to have the internet turned on again because could not wire through money for hotel reservations and other things and the government servers were down… (i think they were hacked by annoynmous hackers … also am sure Uganda government websites also suffered some form of cyber attacks from anonymous hackers)

      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

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