On January 16, 2011 a young middle east based Google executive, Wael Ghonim tweeted:
“Governments shouldn’t be fooled by the ‘stability’ they are bringing to a country by oppressing its citizens using security forces. #Egypt,”
As a part of Google, Wael was more likely to understand what less mobile Egyptian youth could not, that the world of freedom is better than the stability of their current government. He tweeted that he was “sleeping on the streets of Cairo, trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians”.
Even though this young executive may have played a very key part in helping to mobilize and coordinate the uprising it was the disenfranchised youth of Egypt that rose up and peacefully moved Mubarak out of power. Most were young enough that they never knew anything but Mubarak as a ruler. Thirty years is a long time in power, especially to Americans that rarely keep the same political party in the white house for more than eight years.
When young, we were all full of optimism and ideas. How many can recall all night political discussions during college of how to make the world better? Yes, youth has all the answers, or at least life hasn’t beaten them down enough that they have lost hope. Add to that new technologies that expand the hope, and there are real catalysts for change. Twitter and Facebook were major forces in mobilizing the uprising among the youth. The internet is doing what the printing press did centuries ago for expanding knowledge and hope among a new generation.
Hope is what the youth of Egypt were fighting for. Intuitively they new that without making a change, nothing would get better; their opportunities would be limited, and they would always be afraid that saying of doing the wrong thing in the eyes of Mubarak’s police state would get them imprisoned or killed.
It didn’t hurt that Google executive, Wael Ghonim who claimed he is “from Egypt” was tweeting and sending emails inspiring other young Egyptians to rise up against an impending crack down by the Egyptian government.
To a lesser extent, the election of Barack Obama was largely made possible by the youth of America. Struggling under financial pressures and high unemployment, the youth of America needed some hope, and a young black man running for president represented enough change from the past that the youth mobilized to elect somebody who they hoped could change the world for the future.