Here we go again: Young people, rioting in the streets, railing against leadership, using their mobile phones to outsmart law enforcement caught off guard by the nimbleness of cool kids in what would be a B-movie script if it wasn’t unfolding in real time.
But this time it isn’t happening in some far off, ambiguously backward Middle Eastern place. No, this is happening in the homeland of Sir Thomas Moore, Winston Churchill and Kate Middleton.
And, for a pleasant change, the technology being blamed/credited for fueling the fire is neither Facebook nor Twitter, but BlackBerry Message Service — one of the oldest means of mobile-to-mobile text communication, better known among aficionados simply as BBM.
It is, of course, a distinction without a difference. Mobile phones don’t start riots. Sometimes, people with mobile phones do. Sadly, we still seem years away from the time when how people communicate is utterly irrelevant to what they are saying and doing. As the Wall Street Journal‘s Ben Rooney puts it:
… (T)he simple fact is that social media can no more take the credit for the “Arab Spring” than the blame for the “London Summer”. They may have played a role but simply because they are the communication tool of the day. Communication technology is morally neutral.