History making news never waits Over the past week incredible continent rocking sights and sounds have been shouldering their way into our American psyche. War is the influence of politics through the use of force. What is happening in the streets of Tehran is “war” in context, just ask the combatants leveraging their lives, family well-being and their future all for a desperate cause. There is no fence-siting here. It is an all-or-nothing toss. Not since the 1979 overthrow that installed a not -so -benevolent theocracy wearing the jack-boots of extremism has Iran been shaken to its core.
As observers with varying degrees of geo-political interest, we are common in this singular phenomenon; the only news we see or hear from Tehran emanates from the same social networking we are using 24 – 7. Never in our respective histories have so many seen so much sent by so relatively few. For traditionalists skeptical about the power of Twitter, Flikr or Facebook, the wait is over. Virtually 100 percent of the visceral sights and sounds we are devouring are uplinks right from the kids in the streets doing the reporting. This will change the way any globe-reverberating event is covered until the end of time (or until new social technology trumps the old).
It is also intriguing to hear journalists from all corners of the media clinging to their disclaimers “Of course we can’t verify Twitter reports.” Call us naive, but it certainly looks like many Iranian military conscripts are pounding the Hell out of demonstrators wherever they find them. There is the sense that cautious Western reporters feel compelled to put sophistry where it doesn’t belong, repeating concern for the source. The reality of Tehran is what it is: a momentous volcanic eruption which seems to have fomented since the early nineties; now carried to our Blackberries and TV sets by the same instruments we are using to promote a media event or our sons and daughters will engage today to blog about weekend plans or the CD they just scored. We have to ponder; when Tom Friedman wrote “The World Is Flat” could he , in his wildest vision, have foreseen this?
Not the boy standing alone facing down a tank in Tianamen Square, nor Al Michaels pressed into the role of San Francisco news anchor instead of World Series play-by-play icon, not even dazed New Yorkers recoiling in retreat were armed with these immediate, person to person technologies with which to tell a story exactly as it is written. This, we realize, changes everything.
It will be a long time before the world can assess the long term implications for Iran and the Middle East. Patton justly quipped, “Man is the only true war machine.” Military states like North Korea or Iran possess highly advanced materiel but their cabal of leaders should consider the French Revolution, won primarily by men with modest weaponry and armies of angry women wielding sticks, stones and brooms. We may be witnessing a 21st century version.
When a national will is so motivated, suppression gives way to relentless determination and so the Iranian story is far from finished. For those of us with much less urgent application for social networking, the implications of its mighty reach and influence are somehow more exciting, invigorating and most certainly….humbling.