Amy Kelly is the CEO of Parent eSource, the global resource, community, and social media trending firm she founded in 2010 to transform the communication between parents and their children. Parent eSource has achieved stunning results by helping countless parents better understand the changing world their teens live in and providing innovative resources to help parents connect with their connected teens Amy has established her revolutionary perspective, resources and technology and is a sought after expert in sharing her insight and parental connection advice.
When young people today think of revolution, history lessons and men from far-away lands usually come to mind. Januray 25th, 2011, changed all of that. Most teens were unaware of the peaceful revolution brewing within the Egyptian people until the protests moved from the streets of Cairo to the Social Networks, particularly Twitter and Facebook. World Events have certainly made it to the social networks before in the form of commentary and discussion, but never has a major World Event like a Nation’s revolution played out – in real time – on the Social Networks stage before. Even the Tunisian revolution, which took place not too long before Egypt, seemed forgettable. The majority of young people congregate at websites like Twitter and Facebook, so when the Egyptian Revolution took to the Social Networks, today’s youth were given a front row seat and watched it all unfold. That reason alone makes the Egyptian Revolution particularly special and meaningful, and will certainly leave a much more indelible impression on the next generation of world citizens and leaders. The Egyptian Revolution’s influence on teens cannot possibly be overstated.
While the ingredients needed to create the civil unrest among the Egyptian citizens preceded the social networks, what’s known as the Egyptian Revolution seems to have started with the Twitter and Facebook pages of one Egyptian: Wael Ghonim. When Khaled Said – a businessman dedicated to exposing government misconduct – was beaten to death by Egyptian police, Wael Ghonim encouraged Egyptian citizens to protest and take to the streets on January 25th. Ghonim’s now infamous first call to action – made with posts on Facebook and Twitter – simply said: “We are all Khaled Said.” Thousands of angry Egyptians took the streets, with Khaled Said signifying the movement and Wael Ghonim – a Google employee – led the way using the powerful tool of social networking. As word spread through Egypt, with the help of Ghonim, and protests became more frequent, the Egyptian government struck back and tried to stifle the movement.
The six characters “#jan25″ might look like a jumble of misplaced symbols, letters, and missing spaces to the unfamiliar, but those six characters are what started Ghonim’s notorious Social Network Revolution and have come to signify the events in Egypt. If you didn’t already know, the ‘#’ symbol – known as a hashtag – is a way of classifying and finding subjects. For example, on Twitter you might see “#winning” for tweets about Charlie Sheen or something good that happened. Tweets related to a specific subject will usually all carry the same hashtag. #jan25, used by Ghonim on Twitter, became the hashtag for the Egyptian Revolution.
Thousands of demonstrators were killed or beaten by Egyptian police and Ghonim was arrested and held for nearly two weeks. His arrest was kept a secret, a poorly kept one, and one of the reasons for his incarceration was his posts on Facebook saying “We are all Khaled Said.” Had Ghonim not been such a public figure in the revolution, and had he not been employed by the biggest name in the Internet: Google, his arrest might not have been noticed by people outside of his family and circle of friends. Instead, Google issued a statement about Ghonim’s disappearance and an Internet campaign to find him commenced. Shortly after word got out, Egyptian officials announced that Ghonim had been arrested – and also his very timely release. At this point, Egypt had the rest of the world’s attention and there was no chance at stifling this unrest without serious concessions made by the government.
With all the momentum in the world behind him, Ghonim made public appearances in Egypt and on American television and fanned the flames of Revolution as the old government regime did the only thing it really could do at this point: step aside. Not only were young people witnesses to the first spark of revolution, and were able to follow along every step of the way on the Social Networks, but they also were able to see the Revolution through to its completion. Seeing such tangible effects of a peaceful revolution is something that was previously impossible before the Social Network revolution.
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