New technologies mean a new culture and a new generation. In Tunisia, young people watch television, listen to the radio, read newspapers and make new friends online.
They even started a revolution two months ago, thanks to the internet. It is believed that the Tunisian revolution sprang from the internet, and not from some ideology.
Social networking websites, especially Facebook, replaced political parties, opinion leaders and social organizations, in terms of mobilizing people, organizing activities, and even designing slogans.
These websites were primarily used to inform Tunisian and international public opinion. Therefore, young people discovered their journalistic skills and did a wonderful job that was quoted by professional media. The revolution wouldn’t have stood a chance of success without the youth.
This virtual mobilization proved effective for at least three reasons: 1) young people master new technologies; 2) they reject traditional mobilization structures; and 3) the former regime monopolized and distorted public spaces and the media.
However, there were serious aberrations on the internet, which was manipulated by certain forces that are against change and resort to misinformation. The result was disastrous in some cases, as this practice led to deadly clashes.
The major flaw of social networking websites is allowing anonymity, thus lowering the credibility of information disseminated online. However, these websites are needed now more than ever to keep mobilizing young people, mainly for the purpose of promoting social actions and democratic policies.
A possible solution to plug this loophole lies in supervising the youth online by prominent NGOs and political parties that have clear objectives, and that rarely allow passing on misinformation.
Conventional structures must embrace new technologies in order to survive and attract the new generation.
These structures have been somewhat shyly present and weakly interactive online, and often use the internet like print media. Their online activities have to be conducted by young people who are more familiar with the needs and language of the new generation.
These structures need to establish an online presence as soon as possible, because the gap they left behind can be exploited and manipulated by anonymous parties with objectives that are not related to citizen and educational training.
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