Can Social Networks Stop War?

It is clear social media can start wars and revolutions.

“Recent events show us that the public sense of shared grievance and potential for change can develop rapidly,” says Howard. “These dictators for a long time had many political enemies, but they were fragmented. So opponents used social media to identify goals, build solidarity, and organize demonstrations.”

The more interesting question is can it stop them.  The world is filled with flash points and i am still predicting the relatively imminent fall of Assad in Syria.

beginner social networking (started on Facebook, ended on buses)

But the place where things might just be hottest is between nuclear weapons equipped Israel and nuclear power constructing Iran.

As is the nature of social media, the Israeli users are trying things they think might work to help avert a preemptive (or other) strike against Iran.  The above picture has sprung from one of the more successful Facebook memes.  The Peace Factory is the print propaganda branch which does some attractive work including this picture below in mural form.

would you bomb these people?

Israel Loves Iran claims that they are reaching 2 million people with social media, within 6 months of being launched.  But do these clicks matter?

What we know from the Arab Spring is that people can overthrew dictators by learning how to communicate about demonstration and strategies using Facebook and Twitter (and local analogs).  But how can you convert this sentiment into action?.  Israel for it’s many faults is a democracy, democracies are structurally harder to over throw than totalitarian states.  Israel has a completely legitimate concern about an Iranian nuclear weapons program.  Every nuclear weapons state as started with a civil nuclear power program first and many of them have directed materials from these programs to build nuclear weapons.  The current Iranian leadership has threatened to destroy the country.  Does this apology affect that?

[I am sure there is a similar one for Iran, i am just not finding it easily]

i start from a fundamentally skeptical place about this, i dont think the social media is a lever for peace between Israel and Iran, the way it has been on for removing other corrupt regimes.  I think social media is in this sense a lazy activists tool.  I think you need to go out and meet and mingle and merge lives with people from the culture you might invade.  You need lots of pot lucks and border crossings.  You need to intermarry and build physical cultural exchanges.   And this is far more difficult work.  And these ambitious Peace Factory kids might just pull some of that off as well.

to build peace, you need to touch people

[i would be disappointed if i did not get comments on this post from ex-Oaker Woty and ex Visitor Anat and prospective Chubby Squirrel Beatrice]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

11 responses to “Can Social Networks Stop War?”

  1. beatrice says :

    first hit: it’s not either/or. this poster and social media meme campaign can and needs to exist alongside actual person to person meeting and activism. but this reaches big audiences. and iranians and israelis don’t have the means to meet in person very easily (of course israelis and palestinians have lots of opportunities to bridge the gap.
    personally i find this campaign deeply deeply moving. so simple. so seemingly naive and so brave.

    • me first says :

      This article falls under the same Israeli US assumption 1 – that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. 2 – that if it had a weapon it would use it on Israel. 3 – we can somehow trust democracies with nuclear weapons. All three assumptions are false.
      1- There is no evidence that Iran is building a weapon. This is an assumption at best. It is a political tool to stop economic domination of Iran and its leadership role within the region. It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons and has more to do with Iran’s independence from US hegemony and its direct challenge to Israel.
      2- Why would anyone try to use nuclear weapons in their own neighborhood. The idea that Iranians are a bunch of idiots who are going to start firing their nuclear weapons at Israel is so absurd only brainwashed yahoos follow it. The ones using it as propaganda only believe in its propaganda use not that it would actually happen.
      3- Israel is a nuclear power and all it has done is to threaten its neighbors. Us is the only country who has committed genocide using nuclear weapons. Democracies such as us are propping up dictators. Arm shadowy terrorist groups, created and supported Bin Laden and the Taliban. Are siding with terrorist and are in fact training them using Israel so if anyone can not be trusted with weapons of mass destruction it is the Western democracies.

      • paxus says :

        @me first (what a curious handle). i dont need evidence of a secret nuclear weapons program to suspect that one is likely underway. Some Iranian leaders are clearly looking to increase their prestige and a nuclear weapon is the proven tool for this as India and Pakistan have proven.

        Iran is an oil rich country, nuclear power make no sense as an investment (globally this is true but especially in Iran). Perhaps you have missed the rhetoric of Iran wiping Israel off the map. A nuclear weapon, if nothing else would balance the playing field. And if Israel strikes against Iran, they will want to retaliate. The foolishness of using nuclear weapons has prevented their threat.

        i agree with your third point. Israel threatens and attacks its neighbors
        (as its neighbors occasionally do to them) AND the US is unique in dropping
        bombs on civilians (tho hardly genocide, not to belittle the death of a quarter of a million people in two bombs). The US does have a long history of propping up dictators and arming terrorist groups.

        But while we agree on this last point, my guess is you are wedded to the idea that Iran’s objectives are fully peaceful, despite their own financing of the various wars against Israel and others.

    • Debra says :

      Beautifully said. I too find this deeply moving and am so happy to see that the posters got on the buses so soon. Facebook connects the world and people do have power in numbers for positive change.

  2. jlcmom says :

    I agree with the first two commenters. Also want to say, you cannot discount the power of human intention in numbers. Read The Field or The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert. Science has proven the power of a group of people focusing on a situation, even if it is remote.

  3. Will says :

    Pax, having spent time with a couple of Egyptians (not connected to one another) who felt that they played important parts in the Egyptian revolution, I think you’re overstating the role that Facebook played there. They both felt that the real work had been done over a long period of time preceding the revolution, and Facebook was just another tool. And like the first two commenters above, I think you’re understating the role it can play in bringing peace. It’s one of many tools and methodologies and practices that all add up to change.

    • paxus says :

      @Will – i dont think we disagree. My quote of another writers perspective of the power of social media, does not mean i think this played an exclusive role here. Revolutions, even against totalitarian regimes is always complex. Facebook and Twitter had their role and probably helped accelerate and facilitate, but without revolutionaries being willing to risk everything, these tools mean nothing.

  4. Anat Kolumbus says :

    That’s an interesting discussion. I took a few days to ponder it, wanting to address as much as I can. Decided to start and see where it takes us.

    First of all, the campaign referred to is a positive and beneficial initiative that does indeed warm my heart. As an Israeli who grew up and lived in Israel most of my 24 years on this round, I feel close to the topic and deeply care about what’s happening in my home country. It is so great to have brave people coming together from different poles of the conflict and working as a team to spread a good word. I definitely approve and support.

    This campaign mixes up the Israel-Palestine conflict with Israel-Iran in a natural way which I understand (the people care about people), however not in a way that reflects the governments’ conflict. The Iranian government does mention the occupation, but that’s a mere excuse to express an ingrained hatred towards Israel and America that’s routed in Islamic Shia beliefs. I will elaborate more about this in a different post.
    As you can see here (Pax, I found that easily on the FB page of the campaign):,r:8,s:0,i:96&tx=66&ty=78&biw=1024&bih=499

    Now lets get down to the question.
    social media is as – a MEDIUM – and one that can help and won’t harm. However, it is not the main means to stop a war.
    AND – why settle for stopping a war if we can aspire for prosperity?

    Social media is a tool, and as mentioned, it could help raising awareness to issues or encourage people to go out on the streets and protest. I do agree with the idea of physically engaging as being more efficient, but as Beatrice said – it is VERY complicated, especially for Iranians who live under a somewhat totalitarian regime, to interact that way. Traveling is pretty much impossible. That’s wishful thinking. While “talking about a revolution” can’t hurt, it does sound like a whisper, even if we’re screaming it. I say that not to discourage or dismiss peace activists who are doing the best they know to bring about peace and stop violence and conflicts. It does change reality.

    However, In my opinion, the way to deal with conflicts is not by creating another one or fighting the ones who fight, regardless of the ideal nonviolent nature. I think the solution starts with the individual’s dedication and practice to gain SELF MASTERY and INTERNAL PEACE. Here we’re going back to a discussion we started about anarchy and self mastery and which one has a higher impact – or which method addresses a symptom and which addresses the route of the problem and key to prosperity. I personally think that a basic step It is spending a while daily in our head to get to know our mind better, gain awareness and control over it. Everything in the universe exists in relation to-. The relationship we should be on top of first and foremost is with ourselves. Honestly, I believe that people who actually practice to gain self mastery encounter all aspects of their being, including the dark sides, and therefore, are able to overcome egoistic and destructive patterns. That way we are skilled enough to do the best to be the best we can as an integral part (literally) of a whole universe. That means to learn how to relate to our surroundings with the intention to contribute to harmony and balance within and without – with love and compassion, respect and acceptance, honesty and transparency, awareness and logic.

    I’ve experienced the effect of meditation practice on my own life and through others who practice and so I know how beneficial and essential it is for growth and manifestation of a better reality. When done in a group format, it could be even more powerful and effective. Communities which build on foundations of individual and communal awareness, which strive for harmony, balance and compassion, are my vision of prosperity and a key to countering violent phenomena.

    Saying all that, now would be a great time to end my own online input here and go meditate. I am Writing this with deep appreciation to all beings who strive for and act to make this world a better place to live in, each in their own way. This is simply my view and belief.

    BTW – take a look at the following links – all demonstrate ideas that are worth pondering and opening up to:

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