#MUGABEFALLS: MEMES & SOCIAL [MEDIA] DREAMING

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“Had to do another lol #Mugabefalls” – Sane Sato (‏@SaneInTransit)

As the #MugabeFalls meme continues to break the internet and our collective ribs with a slew of hilarious images like the one featured above, it may be worthwhile to consider the (subtle?) socio-political role the meme is playing in ongoing cultural conversations online.

Specifically, the #MugabeFalls meme is an attempt by digital natives and global citizens—who would otherwise have largely very little power to effect change—to speak out against Mugabe’s controversial leadership, thus serving as a contemporary portrayal of satire and social commentary on Africa—which has traditionally taken shape in indigenous literature.

To paraphrase—and recontextualize—the words of designers Dunne and Raby in the first chapter of Speculative Thinking, we need to dream new dreams for the twenty-first century as those of the twentieth century rapidly fade. But what role can design social media play?

Perhaps #MugabeFalls is one answer, and yet another example of how visual media can be used to enact power relations, circulate information and ideas, and make meaning.

INTERNET CITIZENSHIP, DEMOCRACY & DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN AN ERA OF GLOBALIZATION

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What happens when a majority of the people around the world who use the internet have little to no say on its administration and subsequent evolution?

Particularly, in light of the plans to increase Internet access to the two thirds of the world’s population that who currently doesn’t don’t have it, what does Internet democracy and the right to Internet access actually mean?

Does social media activism like Tumblr’s ongoing “It’s Our Internet” campaign actually carry weight? Or, does it merely serve as a ruse that further speaks to the powerlessness of the world’s poor?

Basically, whose internet is it after all?