Not that Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t make some valid points. I certainly wouldn’t underestimate the value of on-the-street activism or the courage of the individual who sits at the racist counter and dares to ask for a cup of coffee. These are the individuals who literally risk their lives to bring about social change. To assign all credit to the collaborative power of the internet is an injustice to the contributions of the activists who spend their lives committed to a cause. However, I also don’t think Gladwell should dismiss the valuable tool that social media has become for empowering, encouraging. and endorsing social movements.
In a world where our lives are so wired into the net, from paying our bills to getting our paycheque, connecting with family, shopping and getting our news, I think he fails to comprehend the degree of dependence, and therefore vulnerability that can be exploited. Take the power wielded by Anonymous, the foul-mouthed cyber geniuses who can take down an online security firm and ruin a CEO’s career in less than an hour.
Imagine Gladwell vs Anonymous….tiny, crazy-haired guy meets Guy Fawkes masked avengers. I wonder if he would be so quick to disregard the collective power of the net if Anonymous submitted his name as one of their targets?
Wikileaks did not happen in the coffee shop, nor is it possible for such a leak to have had the same global impact in 1957. Wikileaks was the catalyst but it was the feet on the street that toppled governments. Together the two are an unbeatable combination.