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Revolution 2.0 by Wael Ghonim

Summary

The book Revolution 2.0: The power of the people is greater than the people in power by Wael Ghonim was set against a backdrop of revolutions that were sweeping across the Middle East in 2011. Mass demonstrations that started as the harmless protests quickly turned into a national event that toppled brutal regimes, which already had been in existence for several decades. The revolution in Tunisia inspired Wael Ghonim to create an online page that would embolden ordinary Egyptians to voice out their displeasure against how the government tried to suppress people’s right to self-expression and other forms of intellectual exercise.

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A year before the fateful event that radically altered the socio-political landscape of Egypt and Middle East, Ghonim had been an unheralded Google executive. He was only 30 years old when he started a Facebook page to let the fellow citizens know that there was a viable political candidate, which could unseat President Mubarak. After a few months, Ghonim created another Facebook page, and this time it was called Kullena Khaled Said. This page was to express his disgust with the death of an Egyptian named Khaled Said at the hands of the law enforcers.

Although Ghonim wanted a lot of people to know about the human rights abuse in Egypt, he was not prepared for the overwhelming success of the Facebook pages he had created. He was careful to keep his identity secret. However, the government managed to find out who was behind the controversial online posts. On the day that the protests was about to become a full-blown revolution, the state security officers kidnapped Ghonim and tortured him.

The news of his kidnapping was not hidden for long. Soon afterwards, the Egyptian government was forced to release Ghonim. When he joined the mass protests that he had started, a significant number of people joined the movement. A few days after Ghonim spoke in public, Mubarak was forced to step down.

Response to Wael Ghonim’s Book: “Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater Than the People in Power

Reading the book elicits two extreme emotions. First, the reader is shocked to find out that dictators are able to use intimidation and other brutal tactics to suppress the clamor for freedom. Second, the reader experiences a profound sense of outrage, because there is no justification for subduing a society, as if people were still living in the time of barbarians.

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Shock and disbelief are felt after the realization that a government leader has the power to detain and torture a person who did not commit any crime. Even criminals living in a law-based society are afforded certain rights, so that they are not treated like animals by their captors. However, in a supposedly civilized society like Egypt, a well-kept secret prevented the outside world to learn about the terrible injustice and intervene. It was crucial to initiate a transformation process to liberate people who were confined not in prisons made of concrete and iron, but in an invisible cage that made them feel like captives at their own homes.

Wael Ghonim’s story is made more riveting because of the fact that the author was a Google executive. Nevertheless, his story will stand out regardless of his occupation; it will still resonate with millions of readers, because of how he unknowingly started a revolution that would eventually topple the dictatorial government. However, the revelation that Google employed him provided a stark contrast for outsiders to understand his predicament. People in the West take for granted the opportunities and liberties that they enjoy because they live in a free world.

Being a Google executive, Ghonim managed to make the reader understand the depths of the people’s despair under a tyrannical rule. The reader can easily compare the life of a Google executive living in the United States as contrasted to the one living in Egypt. If Ghonim lived in the United States, he would have been popular like a rock star, because he was among few highly privileged people working for Google. It is common knowledge that Google Inc. receives thousands of applications each month, but only the few are allowed to try out as interns and eventually hired as full-time employees in the said world-renowned IT company.

It is, therefore, a riveting statement when the author reveals his identity. However, the plot thickens when he describes how instrumental Web 2.0 or social media networks were in creating a revolution. In the past, revolutions were made in the most painstaking way. The leaders of revolutions were oftentimes exiled, imprisoned, or participated in a propaganda struggle that took years to develop. In most cases, a revolutionary movement was birthed in the mountains or wilderness – in the outskirts of society. However, in the case of Ghonim and his beloved Egypt, the revolution started in the heart of the city.

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There are at least two important lessons that one can learn from reading the book. First, the power of social media is undeniable. Before Ghonim and his Facebook page changed the course of Middle East history, the world had had an incomplete and immature view of social media networks. Billions of dollars were made through social networking sites. Companies, for example, made money through the efficient use of advertisements. The concept, therefore, has been supported and widely employed by the capitalists. Without a doubt, social networking sites are instrumental in drawing people together. Nonetheless, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on a yearly basis not only to improve the ability to connect with each other. Most of the resources are utilized to improve the network’s ability to make more money for the company.

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