It appears that David Cameron has decided he doesn’t like being in government anymore, and is going to hammer that final nail into his political coffin in a decision that would not only secure his ejection at reelection, but might possibly result in an early ejection from his nice little location on Downing Street. Why? Because David Cameron decided today that it might be a good idea to kick it Chinese style and block Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) in England to prevent people communicating about the riots. I mean, it worked for the Chinese, it worked for the Egyptians, so why wouldn’t it work for England, right?
David Cameron is a smart man. He sees a problem, and then tries to find a way to solve it. I like that in my political leaders. It shows that they are actually trying to do something rather than sit around and drink tea all day while smiling pretty for a camera and waving to the people over the television. But there’s a fine line in a country driven by free people that a politician can’t cross. Some of those lines will result in a slap on the wrists. Others will end in a calming walk to the gallows and a nice, tough rope closed around your neck. Cameron just decided he liked the sound of the latter.
I think this comes down to a generational issue. What Cameron and most other people over their mid 30’s don’t seem to understand is that Social Media isn’t just a service. It is now part of our lives. It’s more natural in our means of communication than picking up a phone and calling someone. We use it to chat with people all over the world, keep in touch with strangers, and network ourselves across massive platforms of people that were otherwise completely unreachable 10 years ago. It has become an extension of our lives, a second mouth, if you will, that allows for us to express ourselves in ways normal communication would never make room for. It is part of our culture.
To take Social Media away would be the same as taking the television away 20 years ago. It would be the same as taking the radio away 60 years ago. It would be the same as disconnecting every cell phone across the country 5 years ago. It would be like invading a nation sewing shut the mouths of everyone in it 1000 years ago. It would be political and social suicide.
If this passes, if Cameron somehow manages to find a collection of idiots big enough that all agree with him, then he can kiss his political career goodbye. We live and breathe social media. As a Social Media Marketing Consultant, I use it every single day of my life. Google+ is my new favourite toy, Facebook my favourite advertisement platform for brand awareness. I use Twitter and Facebook to publicize my blogs and short stories and Linkedin to interact with all my colleagues and clients. I blog every single day, currently writing for over 11 different blogs. And all of these things come together to form a giant met of social media communication. More people know my name through the internet than do in person. Why? Because Social Media is more than just a tool used to chat. It’s the internet of communication. It’s a hivemind of conversations, letting you stay up to date on the most recent nothings in existence.
And sure, social media may be being used to cause trouble in London. But then there are people out there using Social Media to write articles and post stories that say the complete opposite. There are people, like me, writing and saying that the people walking through the streets of London ruining the lives and businesses that surround them are a plague to my country, and the government needs to step up and fix it or get out.
Here’s the thing, Cameron, and yes, I’m talking to you directly. You can kill Social Media if you want. You can shut it all down and take it away. But you better be willing to take that next step, because if you kill Social Media, your riots are about to get a whole lot worse. The people using it right now to cause trouble may be a thorn in your paw, but watch what happens to normal people when you tell them they can’t talk anymore. You watch those streets flood with people that would never have walked out there. You watch as your country turns against you and joins the chaos. Because frankly, David, can I call you David? Frankly, David, if you take away the most basic level of free speech in the world from a country that exists only because it believes in freedoms, you need to be ready for a mess unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.