I’ve been meaning to link this for a while now. It is a thoughtful piece on technology, surveillance, politics and power, set against the tumultuous protests taking place in Istanbul, Turkey in 2013. Even if you don’t have the estimated 22 minutes to read the article, scroll through and admire the incredibly atmospheric photographs.
On the question itself, the answer is “yes” — an answer that is simultaneously ambiguous and crystal clear. To me the Internet is an amplifier. It gives power to both the good and the bad.
Where democracy and freedoms are at stake in non-Western countries (in a sense you can think of it as the lower rungs on the Hierarchy of Needs), connectivity and the Internet can be fantastic things. Once people are at the stage where they’re able to pursue “self-actualisation” and other higher needs, that’s when the picture gets more complicated. The end discussion about the subtle shaping and seducing of the populace through technology is spot on.
It is ironic that the societies in which freedoms are taken for granted are the ones where people’s autonomy are at stake — albeit in a different way to what we are seeing in the Middle East, Turkey, Ukraine, etc.