Turkish Protests Through the Media- Social Media’s Role on Activism

The photograph below is taken from Bac. Bac posted this photo in Instagram on June 4.

gezi parki









Even though, in the article “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted” Malcolm Gladwell asserts that the executive use of social media platforms is an unsatisfactory method through reaching real activism, I strictly believe that the core initiatives of radical changes of society can be launched  by the power of social media. According to Gladwell the type of activisms that linked with social media platforms are the representatives of low-risk activism whilst high-risk activism (traditional activism) is integrated with “strong-tie phenomenon”, this concept can be defined as a unifying performance of  individuals’ level of commitment and adherence to each other in a given group of activists who are gathered to rehabilitate existing social issues. According to Gladwell, one of the major factors of the use of social media counted as low-risk activism is that unlike high risk activism, low risk-activism is built around weak ties among the users of social media platforms. He states that “Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by ) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life” (Gladwell, 5)  Therefore, he concludes that strong-tie phenomenon is attributable only to high-risk activism. I believe that, rather making strict distinctions between the types of activisms like Gladwell does, high-risk and low-risk activism should be considered on a more holistic approach. A belief that low-risk activism can be an effective instrument in leading to the real changes in a society (high-risk activism). Gezi Park Protests are the perfect example of both low-risk and high-risk activism. In these protests thousands of people used social media platforms, especially Twitter, in order to attract more people to come and join in the protests. As you can see in the figure below, the hashtag of #occupygezi and different kinds of hashtags like #direngeziparki#resistanbul etc.  This is how low-risk activism have an important role on reaching real activism. Gladwell argues that “Social networks are effective at increasing participation by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires” (6).

occupygeziWell, obviously in Gezi Park Protests social media’s role on activism definitely led people to go to Taksim Square and the maintenance of continuum protests. These protests showed that both motivation and participation have reached its efficiency by low-risk activism. One important issue that I’d like to bring into my writing is that when Dr. Martin Luther King decided to make “real” changes in society they didn’t have the opportunity of expressing themselves in such easy way like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. They didn’t have access to these social platforms. If they did, if they insisted on protesting for their beliefs and advocacy and at the same time they used social media platforms, without a doubt,  the consequences would be much more different and effective. In conclusion I believe that low-risk activism can be an effective trigger in reaching high-risk activism. I further believe that these terms are complementary; when high-risk activism occurs is also triggers low risk-activism and when low-risk activism happens it also triggers the traditional activism. My recommendation is that the terms low-risk activism and high-risk activism should be reconsidered again in a cumulative and holistic approach.

The link below illustrates the photos documented on the process of Gezi Park Protests. The second link below is an newspaper article that is talking about how social media platforms are used in Gezi Park Protests.




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