If there was any doubt before that smartphones were starting to become more than just devices for entertainment, then the role these smartphones are playing in the latest happenings in Turkey’s political chaos should change your mind.
Smartphone technology has not only become the primary medium of how people search the internet or stream their favorite media but it also has started to take center stage in our political lives.
Turkey’s latest political (and an attempted coup as the media is currently portraying it) chaos serves an appropriate example of how a smartphone with an internet connection can be used as a trusted means of communication by politicians and protesters alike.
The modern adage goes something like this. If everything else collapses, get a hold of a smartphone.
In an attempt to overthrow the elected government of Turkey, the military staged quite an operation.
They first shut down services like Facebook and Google so the general population can’t communicate with each other effectively.
And then proceeded to attempt a coup by cutting off travel to Europe from Istanbul and filling the streets with soldiers and tanks.
In between all that, the military was also able to storm CNN Turk studios and shut their transmission down.
As a reaction to all this, RecepTayyip Erdogan (having been cut off all mainstream media by military operations) was forced to call for help in a unique way.
Erdogan followed a two-step process. First, he got hold of a smartphone and then he put the camera on that smartphone in front of his face.
Then he launched a smartphone application called FaceTime (not sure if Apple would actually get free advertising from a situation of this sort but whatever).
For the uninformed, FaceTime is a smartphone software that allows you to communicate with a video chat free of charge through the internet.
Your smartphone needs to have a camera that is able to make videos in order to use FaceTime, but we’re fairly certain that over 99 percent of the people who own a smartphone fulfill that requirement comprehensively.
Turkey’s president used his smartphone to give an interview to a local new channel and appealed to the public to come out on the streets and start creating chaos to save the democratically elected government of the country.
Through the use of his smartphone, Erdogan instructed the public to go in numbers and meet in places such as public squares and airports where the chances of them being heard and seen would be much greater and more effective.
Perhaps this is the time we should mention that Erdogan wasn’t using just any smartphone.
Through his iPhone (and a little help from Apple’s FaceTime smartphone app) Erdogan proclaimed that nothing could overcome the power of the people and hence people should flock to all public places and do anything in their power to disrupt the military operation that is trying to make this coup attempt as smooth a process as possible.
Even though around four billion people aren’t connected to the internet, that still leaves about two billion people who do have a smartphone and have access to the infinite universe that is the internet.
You wouldn’t be mistaken to think that the smartphone you currently have in the palm of your hand right now has actually become the remote control for the majority of activities that you do on a regular basis.
But now, smartphone applications (assuming those smartphone applications are able to get connected to the internet as well) have started to evolve and have become vital tools for politicians and protesters to get their faces on the international media and get their message across the whole world from their places of safety and security.
The military coup attempt could turn out to be a key moment in the history of modern Turkey and from a technological perspective; a smartphone would be at the center of it all.
If we can have a slightly deeper look at the events that have taken place in the past week, we should be able to realize the role smartphone technology has started to play in our daily lives.
Just a month ago in June, the Democrats in Washington, DC wanted to protest gun legislation laws while being present on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The opposition ordered for the cameras to be turned off so that the protest wouldn’t get any media attention. And the cameras were turned off.
What saved the day you may ask? A Smartphone.
Because of technologies such as Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live, the protesters (that is, the Democrats) were able to show the entire country their sit-in proceedings.
In fact, many media outlets began to rebroadcast the videos that were made by the Democrats through their smartphone applications.
Hence the whole nation was informed with the use of smartphone applications that were not even in existence ten years ago.
In the same month, that is June 2016, Damien Reynolds was able to make a video of a police offer who shot her husband four times while saying this “Please don’t tell me he’s dead.”
That closeness to the actual events and the personal comments that were made evolved the video from just being news into a nationwide concern regarding police behavior.
And who can forget those horrific live streams of Dallas police killings? Five officers were shot to death in a premeditated attack and seven were injured.
All the while protesters were filming the whole event and in fact, were the first ones to do so. All with the help of a smartphone.
Every event that has been just mentioned has videos at the center of the whole situation.
Videos were the primary medium through which people learned what actually took place in these unfortunate events.
But an even more significant aspect of the videos was their personal nature. These videos weren’t being made by hired professional photographers with all their flashy equipment and what not.
These videos were made by people who held a smartphone camera a few centimeters away from their face.
That made these videos feel more intuitive and humanlike in their nature.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s billionaire CEO, remarked earlier how horrific and graphics were the images that people witnessed earlier this week and how these images are the primary reason why we need to a more connected world.
These recent events show how far away we are from a truly open and united world.
The political fallout in Turkey is just one example where, even though there were no live streams as they were in the US, smartphone applications were able to make the president’s (who is this case must be considered the sole representative of the people of Turkey since he was an elected government official) voice heard although the statement was a quick one and was given to just one local news outlet.
Several reports in the media have suggested that access to the internet has been banned by the military in many areas amid all the chaos and agitation.
On the upside, however, YouTube has stated that its operations seem to be in order and are working without much trouble.
Facebook live also seems to be still working as CNN Turk used it to broadcast themselves after their studio was taken over by the military.
Twitter, however, has said that its services are being deliberately hampered.
Relevant authorities including US State Department, Turkish officials, and Facebook are expected to come out with their statements shortly.