John Overmyer

Illusions of Democracy

The Internet has changed how we do business, how we do politics, and even how we change our leaders – at least some of the time. But we should not let that fool us into believing that the online world is even remotely like democracy.

NEW YORK – The Internet is an extraordinarily powerful tool. It has changed how we do business, how we do politics, and even how we change our leaders – at least some of the time.

But the ease with which we now communicate, the efficiencies we take for granted, can give us a false sense of how easy it is to follow through on some of these changes. Despite the importance of social media in fomenting revolution, and even in deposing deeply unpopular leaders, governing in the real world is not as easy as governing online.

This struck me last week when I listened to one of Egypt’s new online generation talking enthusiastically about the future. His thesis was that once people have tasted freedom, once the oppressive leader is gone, they will naturally live as free people and build a new, democratic society without much central oversight. I wish I could believe that it will all be as easy for Egyptians as running a Facebook group was.

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