A Brighter Future

// Posted by on 04/01/2013 (1:04 AM)

When the subject of US Mexican relations is brought up it is almost instantly turned to talk of intense violence, drug cartels, trafficking, and missing people. These problems are very real and in need of answers, however they are not easy problems with foolproof answers. A possible answer to these problems can be found in online activism.

Online activism is a new form of protest that takes place solely online in a 3rd space.  Social activism is being transformed by the web.  Some of the most creative forms of protest and philanthropy are taking place online. People who are powerless in the modern world now have a voice that can be heard and seen by millions online with the click of a button. Online activism has the power to change how the world runs, for better or worse. In the case of the border predicament I can see online activism doing amazing things for the growing problem.

Online activism has the potential to unite the common citizen against the violence that many border towns face everyday. A quote from an online article describes the power of online activism quite well, the quote goes “Once a citizen feels he is not powerless, he can aspire for more change. … First, the Web democratized commerce, and then it democratized media, and now it is democratizing democracy.” The web gives the average citizen power that he or she would normally be without. One such example of the possibilities that online activism can bring to the table is an organization called Center for Citizen Integration. This organization “aggregates Twitter messages from citizens about everything from broken streetlights to “situations of risk” and plots them in real-time on a phone app map of Monterrey that warns residents what streets to avoid, alerts the police to shootings and counts in days or hours how quickly public officials fix the problems.” It is a very interesting idea that has the potential to drastically increase the role of the citizen and hopefully decrease crime rates and drug related violence.

Online activism is a rapidly growing trend and now companies and organizations are popping up with the sole goal of aiding online activists. One such organization is Advancing Human Rights and is helping to reach out to citizens in countries that face injustices but do not have the power to resist them.

The two examples previously stated are a symbol of hope to the future of online activism, and a bright light that could potentially fight the war on drugs and the border relations of US and Mexico. When I read about the spread of the idea of online activism it gives me confidence that the web will grow as a force for good. It will be very interesting to see in the coming years how drastically online activist movements affect the violence and drug scene that has engulfed towns and cities on both sides of the border.

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Celia said...

While we have seen many examples of meaningful social activism, there are also instances were digital social collaborations have been harmful. Do you think there is any potential for organized social crime using these same outlets? Also, given that the US-Mexico situation is transboundary, what are the political implications for these two spaces? Both nations have differing views and regulatory power over the social network. What right do the governments have to intervene with the actions on the Internet? Is that out of the US government’s jurisdiction? I think most people would say yes. What would the Mexican government think of border communities joining together through social networks?

// 04/01/2013 at 10:05 pm

Rafael Fernandez said...

There was a case in México where online activism influenced the masses, the Yo Soy 132 group, who fought against the actual president and complain about the free expression. They lost, because Enrique Peña Nieto won the election but that was something new in México, something never seen before, online activism.
Seeing it in a deeper way, the case in México is very different than in the United States, where in México only about the 30% of the population have access to internet compared to a 77% of the population who have access to internet.
When persuading a cause, I think that it depends on the objectives to see if it is more convenient to reach the people through the internet or is it better like the old days, marching on the street. If trying to get to the poorest class, by online activism will not be the best way, because the lowest class are the ones who have very little or no access at all to the internet.

You mention some problems that need and answer, unfortunately one of the reasons to this chaos is the big business opportunity not only for the Mexicans but for all the people from south and central America. Being next to the biggest drug market comes with its consequences. I’m not saying that nobody consumes drugs in México, because unfortunately is a tendency that has been growing through the years as well.
I suggest that both governments work together, but not only México-U.S. but all the way from Colombia until Canada. Maybe legalize only the marijuana and make even more severe punishments for the people who sell or consume other type of drugs. At the same time making a campaign specially focusing on the younger generations explaining them the consequences of being involve with a gang or of doing drugs, and not only by talks or videos but focusing there attention in something else like for example on practicing a sport or learn a new cultural activity. This can be possible by investing some of the government resources on the public spaces so they can create for example soccer or basketball fields or skate parks.

// 04/09/2013 at 9:30 pm

Tec de Monterrey said...

I agree with you Patrick. The Online activism is a social force that allows the inhabitants of a country to exercise citizenship. As you say it, the online activism has taken hold in our city by the increasing violence of organized crime. This tool enables citizens to be alert to dangerous situations. Here lately criminal acts have fallen. Through twitter, reports indicate the locations of car accidents or street works. We can see how to start acting in a kind of online activism can create a “custom” or citizen “routine” that can cover more social areas. It is important that the government provides enough confidence to all citizens to participate in online activism. In Mexico cities there have been attacks against citizens who choose to report crimes via social networks. Therefore, the government can not be distant from cyberspace, it needs to be tuned to ensure proper use of it and prevent attacks against freedom of expression.
I think the third space is a meeting place where the government should also participate and take advantage of this tool, protecting the integrity of the users Also, it is important that online activism is peaceful, with social development purposes, and that the demonstrations, strikes or meetings are being organized within the framework of the law. If cyberspace is presented as a place of total freedom of expression, we must take responsibility for this right. We must be able to respond to our comments and the information we disseminate. It is very easy to write a text and send it anywhere without putting our name. But it takes citizens to declare our opinions in public. Therefore, we must ensure that cyberspace is a safe place so that every citizen has the courage to act in the interests of society.

Vanessa Carranza

// 04/10/2013 at 12:43 am

Tec de Monterrey said...


I think your point of view is really interesting. Even though I think the problem can improve with the involvement of the people not only with online activism, I believe it is a very helpful tool that is impacting the development of a lot of communities. The power of the Internet makes the news transport faster and more people get to know what’s happening at that moment. Even though it has positive results, the problem of trafficking drugs and corruption in México has its roots since before the Internet existed and it needs more dramatic measures to change. First of all the system need a clean government, it need to get rid of all corruption and bureaucracy that takes place on the state and since many decades it has ruled México. You said, “In the case of the border predicament I can see online activism doing amazing things for the growing problem.” A lot of social media is now focusing on the problems that happen in the border, and if it weren’t for the media many of these problems that are being taking care of right now, would have been unknown to the rest of the world. I agree that online activism has the potential to unite the common citizen against the violence that many border towns face everyday; but as I mentioned before these efforts are not enough because the problem is there everyday and if its not solved from the roots the story will repeat over and over again.
As one article mentions online activism, “It sets pressure points to force change,”. “Once a citizen feels he is not powerless, he can aspire for more change. … First, the Web democratized commerce, and then it democratized media, and now it is democratizing democracy.” As you mentioned the organization Center for Citizen Integration is an excellent idea to make online activism more palpable, but it has it disadvantages because the thing about this type of activism is that only the minority of the population has access to smart phone, and a part of the community is being left out, nevertheless it is a really smart way to start making small transformations that bring bigger changes.

Mónica Tarriba.

// 04/10/2013 at 1:22 am