The Arab Spring| Connecting the National and the Virtual: Can Social Media Have a Role in Institution-building After Egypt’s January 25 Uprising?
The objective of this article is to ground the debate about the connection between social media and popular uprisings in the specific context of recent social and political trends in Egypt. This is crucial when attempting to draw conclusions about the factors and mechanisms that produced Egypt’s January 25, 2011, revolution and, more importantly, whether social media can contribute to building a new political culture to support the revolution. Although it took just 18 days of protests to force the resignation of President Mubarak, constructing a new political culture will be a slower and more challenging process. If social media are to provide a real channel for political debate and activism, they must connect with traditional forms of media and civil society. This will ensure that the dialogue about Egypt’s future remains national rather than retreating to the virtual.