Dr. David Doellinger
Self immolation protests have been used over the course of history for expressions of personal protest and religious persecution, but more recent ones have been focused on political protest and been chained to revolution as in Tunisia. Even in the face of constant harassment and repression, Mohamed Bouazizi was a compassionate man. He chose to react with violence on no one but himself in response to the harassment he had experienced all his life. Having used every channel of complaint available to him and receiving no respite from his woes, Mohamed Bouazizi self immolated. Social networks are not a new thing, but the addition of social media to social networks is, and the incredibly visual image of his burning as well as video of violent reaction from security forces on the very first protests by his friends and family were uploaded to Twitter and Facebook and told the story in an almost minute by minute accounting of the beginnings of a revolution. Without the social media component there would not have been a Tunisian revolution for there would have been no Twitter to upload a photo to, nowhere to share the picture that was taken of Bouazizi’s self immolation. Like no other revolution before it social media was the tipping point, and the peaceful Tunisian uprising that began as a small protest in the city of Sidi Bouzid had begun.
Galvin, Richard A. II, "FIRE: Agent of Change" (2014). Student Theses, Papers and Projects (History). 34.