The Construction of a New Sociality through Social Media: The Case of the Gezi Uprising in Turkey
During Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests in the summer of 2013, millions of people became connected as fellow pro- testers. In the early days of the Gezi movement, the increase in participatory activism through social media made visible the police brutality exercised in the last days of May 2013 against a small group of environmentalists who were protecting Gezi Park from being demolished in order to build a shopping mall. Throughout Turkey’s political history, there has been no other example of this kind of spontaneous mass movement resisting the state apparatus with the large participation of diverse groups and self-convened protesters, without any dominant ideological appeal or leader affiliation. In this article, I will analyze the ways in which these patterns of contra- dictory interactions formed, evaluated, or triggered various types of social relationships, by critically examining the content of viral images, memes, and widely shared posts by Gezi protesters on social media. In the absence of internal cohesion or an ideological and organizational agenda, I argue that widely shared viral images, memes, and text messages provided the content to collaboratively construct and publicly frame the autonomous logic of the “Gezi spirit” by the Gezi protesters. I aim to analyze this new understanding of collective identity in autono- mous logic processed through social media as a being-with (mit-sein), rather than a fusion of the individual to an enigmatic we-ness in order to represent “I”. I claim that this autonomous collectivity is driven by fluidarity as a public experience of the self in relation to the other without intermediary apparatuses and hence can be conceptualized as having built a new sociality.
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