The revolution will not be televised…
The revolution will not be repeated, my brothers…
The revolution will be live…
In 1970, following the American Civil Rights Movement, Afro-American poet Gil Scott Heron penned these words that called people to the streets.
Jim Crow inspired his legendary words. Jim Crow was the name of the ‘racial caste system’ from 1877 until the mid-1960s. It was more than just strict anti-black legislation; it was a way of life. It represented the legitimization of anti-black racism.
Many Christian pastors at that time proclaimed that whites were the chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and that God supported racial segregation. Newspapers and magazines referred to black people as ‘negroes.’ In children’s games, blacks were depicted as inferior beings.
Gil Scott Heron’s powerfully expressed ‘Black self-determination movement’ was embargoed by the media. The media of the day was built on white supremacy and segregation, leading to the Blacks’ uprising and taking to the streets, as Heron called it, the “revolution.”
“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a satirical poem written by Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded this poem for his 1970 album. The title of the song was a popular slogan among the Black Power movements in the 1960s in the USA. The lyrics of the song reference how the Revolution should not happen, using examples from TV shows, advertising slogans, news, and entertainment programs.
The world is no longer like it was 50 years ago with black and white conflicts. The emergence and development of social media provided new virtual platforms for taking to the streets. These digital channels are vital for the oppressed in authoritarian countries where street protests and grassroots revolutions are impossible.
The ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings on the social media timeline are “proof that the Revolution was televised.”
This scenario has been reversed and then empowered the demonstrations that subsequently appeared in the cities’ squares.
However, at the end of the started revolutions, there is ‘oppression’ and its most horrific form, ‘genocide.’ In the new world order, social media platforms have become not only places where genocides are legitimized but also where live massacres can be witnessed by the world.
The atrocities in Gaza have impacted our digital universe and our mobile phone screens more than any previous genocides. Both past genocides and the horrific events in Gaza are examples of the impact of these events.
Gaza is the world’s first digital genocide.
A genocide where images of pain and loss of life are instantly transmitted to our screens. The bloody images of babies are liked and shared, videos of children charred by white phosphorus are transmitted to followers with a click. Live broadcasts of bombed hospitals and schools are streamed on Instagram, while the drinking water crisis is broadcast to the world via TikTok.
Gaza is not the world’s first genocide. There are many simultaneous tragedies around the world, including in China. Yet, the intense social media usage focusing on Gaza and the avalanche of images, videos, and live broadcasts conveying the brutality against the Palestinian people have reached an unprecedented level.
The genocide in Gaza is not only televised but also experienced in real-time. No society has ever experienced the brutality inflicted on the Palestinians living in approximately 140 square kilometers. Therefore, we watch the war uncensored. The most painful aspect is that we are becoming desensitized to this human tragedy that should deeply affect us every day.
These are images that couldn’t have appeared in Western newspapers 10-15 years ago. Instead of shocking people, they rapidly spread as a quickly browsed and automated routine.
To describe this situation as ‘dystopian’, as used for societies under tyrannical and oppressive governments with restricted or removed fundamental rights and freedoms, is an understatement. This genocide has taken us much further. But instead of just watching, we have become a part of it.
With every click and share, we are virtual accomplices in a digital genocide that completely endangers our humanity. Instead of watching the apocalypse on large screens, we are fully immersed in a struggling reality on the screens in our palms.
The images broadcast on social media are making waves around the world. Millions pour into the streets, marching in solidarity, demanding that Israel and its supporter, the USA, be held accountable for the attacks on Palestine. During the largest pro-Palestine march in US history in front of the White House, protesters chanted, “Netanyahu, we accuse you of genocide!”
As global reactions intensify, especially US officials fear that it won’t be long before “support erodes” and the reaction to civilian casualties reaches a tipping point.
We are trapped in a terrible world order that has become a routine part of our lives, where turning away from death is meaningless. We must continue to raise our voices with determination and will, and compel the world to resolve the current pain and trauma directly affecting Gaza. As the Afro-American poet Gil Scott Heron said, “The revolution will not be repeated, my brothers!”