~ Why building a society based on cellphones probably doesn’t work.
Yesterday I wrote a post based on part upon the pyramids. Mentioned was the Great Pyramid, the navel, if not the epicenter of planet earth. OK, let’s argue. Some say the center is Saint Peters in the heart of Rome, others say it is the Imperial Palace in Beijing (aka: Forbidden City), Americans might argue that it is at Panmunjom in the DMZ (located between the Koreas).
This brings us to the new epicenter of the universe that we call the world which today is Tahrir Square, or Liberation Square, or maybe the bustling center of Cairo. The pyramids are located elsewhere, in Giza. The point is that these places are places. They are not just points and multi-points of connectivity on some nonexistent (meaning virtual) cellphone map.
America has lived through a revolution in communication, information, whatever. The revolution has not led to much. Everyone must still “go home” and even then all the communications in the world haven’t saved a single home for those who are still homeless and in America those people are among the many. America offers no safety net; so, so much for the much heralded benefits of the web. Like in the lesson of Tiananmen Square, Lexington Green or at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran itself, revolutions always begin at a place where there is a sense of place. Insurrections grow from where people gather. Getting there may be like a message from Paul Revere; however, traditionally it’s not the message, it’s being there that counts.
So, has all that what was once tradition changed? Can there be a “cellphone revolution”? Can we have and hold a new Constitutional Convention (in the United States itself) without having an Independence Hall (really: Pennsylvania Statehouse) or other new point at which to convene and rally? Is the need for speakers really dead? Can’t a simple Tweet just do it? For the answer just look to Cairo now.
If Mubarak and his well-heeled followers can just take the square, then maybe, the whole revolution is off. If ten million cellphones can bring in 10 million peaceful revolutionaries (to converge upon the square) then the whole revolution is on. Can the cellphones be kept on? Word of mouth is far too slow in the age of instant revolution when airtime is measured and tracked by computers and not just by clocks (clocks are so yesterday; it’s not the time, but how many minutes left that you have that matters).
So yes, Mubarak may get a telephone call or so asking that he step down. “I hold the square,” he might have said, “the revolution is over.” “Hold the line,” someone else then says, using that familiar phrase, “please hold”. “Maybe you could just Txt me,” Mubarak says, “tweeks just take a minute.” “I hear shots fired in the streets, the army sounds like it’s moving or mowing people down, or something – I wish I were there, all I’ve got is this gad dam*ed “dropped connection”.”
It is interesting to follow this latest revolution. We all will see how far it goes. Without all the cellphones and internet and cable TV and satellite receivers Hozni Mubarak would have been gone long ago. It is the media that has kept him so long in power. And it’s true; the media begins (and ends) with you.
Is it Western Union or just Paul Revere calling? I think next time I’ll just sleep in. A call to arms, a call to place, an invitation to the next great big mass rally? It’s all a sham. Everyone knows that every real revolution begins at home – so tune out, turn off, get disconnected. Talking is for families, friends and neighbors. You’ll only find media in the streets. And guns.