In his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, French author Michel Foucault suggests that the real power of a “law” manifests in the way such policies or edicts actually get implemented and the real world impacts that follow, not in the intentions the leaders had in creating the regulations. The original intention, regardless of social value, becomes immaterial. The same might be said of communication messages, regardless of what Marshall McLuhan said about the medium being the message.
In recent months, we have seen an innocuous social networking platform called Facebook – lauded with market valuations in the billions of dollars; immortalized on film as pop culture history; and generally acknowledged as a central hub of the globe’s digitally privileged classes. Most recently, Facebook has been given credit for being central to the revolutions in Middle East countries that have toppled ruthless dictators after decades of oppression. The privileged co-opted the action of a poor fruit vendor’s statement through flames, starting whirl-winds that blurred the lines between electronic and corporeal social networks.