We love the Internet because it supports our overwhelming desire to have a larger influence over what happens in our lives. This fundamental longing to control our destiny has inspired every successful political movement in the last 250 years, whether it was the American Revolution or the fight against Communism in Eastern Europe.
These are the first few lines of Ethan Riegelhaup’s OpEd piece this week in Mashable. Americans, since inception, have an inborn desire for justice, and an inclination to resist top-down institutions. We rebelled against British Imperialism, revolted against slavery, fought Nazism, and granted universal voting rights to our citizens. Americans are always looking to level the playing field by applying spotlight to injustices here, and worldwide. And that is the true power of the internet, isn’t it? Beyond the day-to-day convenience it gives to us in our banking, commerce, communication, etc., it has the grander utility of empowering any and all of us to shed light on an imbalance, and the ability to rectify it. Riegelhaup continues:
Far more importantly, the Internet has become a catalyst for concerted behavior, enabling individuals throughout the world to make the transition from commenting and speaking to doing and acting. This has exponentially enhanced anyone’s ability to alter and shape the course of events.
Out of all this activity, we see the emergence of what may well be the most important political development of the 21st century: digital populism. It is global in scope with a flavor of the New England town square and speaks to the intrinsic need for personal expression, mass action, and ongoing engagement.
Incredibly well said. While we, as Americans, will continue to have disagreements, and heated ones at that, the era of digital populism is continued proof that our most common thread is our desire seek justice.