Eight years ago, the United States began a grand experiment to impose democracy upon a populous Arab nation. 4,500 soldiers, a trillion dollars and tens of thousand civilian casualties later the outcome is still far from certain.
A couple days ago a dictator who’d had a stranglehold on power over a populous Arab nation for over thirty years was overthrown by a peaceful mob. A mob that was sparked by Facebook page.
There is no longer any denying the astonishing power for change that social media has. And as usual, that thought gets marketers all hot and bothered thinking about how they can leverage it to sell their doo-dads and what-nots.
But here’s the thing: yes, Facebook and Twitter were instrumental in sparking and organizing the uprising in Egypt. But only because they were conduits for powerful, inspirational human needs and desires. There will not be an enormous revolution in food because Wheat Thins has a Twitter page. Because the idea of tasty, crunchy wheat squares does not reduce grown men to tears or inspire young people to risk their lives in pursuit of it.
Paper didn’t create Christianity just because the Bible was printed on it.
The better the means of dissemination, the more potent ideas can become. There have never been better means of dissemination, and has there ever been a better idea than freedom? But for the rest of us looking for clever ways to sell shoes and vacations and industrial fire retardants and whatever, let’s keep our expectations reasonable, shall we?