And so they did. Regan's then obscure reference to the Berlin Wall in '87 is given dubious credit in the movement that led to its dismantling beginning on November 9, 1989. Regardless, on the two-decade anniversary of its fall, a lot of us are going to find ourselves wondering how 20 years could have possibly gone by since this prolific symbol of the so-called Iron Curtain came tumbling down.
Let's be honest, without the collective consciousness the Internet enables, very few of us could recite the facts surrounding the wall's destruction, or its construction for that matter.
What else does the collective consciousness remind us about the last 20 years?
- Tianamen Square happened just 5 months before the wall fell (June 1989);
- Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years (1990);
- The Warsaw Pact failed and the Soviet Union ceased to exist (1991, via Newsweek);
- The WWW was introduced (1991);
- NAFTA came into effect (1994);
- Internet access was offered to the masses (1995);
- Britain turned Hong Kong over to China (1997);
- US President Bill Clinton was impeached (1999);
- Y2K did not wipe out global technology systems (2000);
- An attack on the World Trade Centre devastated America (2001);
- The conflict in Darfur began (2003);
- The Human Genome Project was completed (2003);
- North Korea conducted its first nuclear test (2006);
- The US elected its first African American President (2008).
Many of us watched as the Berlin Wall fall. We were passive observers of this history in the making. We shared comments only with those in our physical proximity and the news ceased to be news once we changed the channel. Now, we share history as it happens with people across the planet, and more importantly, hold the potential to shape it. (It can't hurt to be reminded of the enormous responsibility this brings.)
And now, time for the social media soapbox...
Would the wall have fallen more quickly if human rights activitists then had the collective social, cultural and economic power of the web and its social media offspring at their disposal? Hard to say for sure. (Hell yes.) Most certainly, we would not have heard about it first from CBC or ABC or CNN, but from each other.
If we can use this collective consciousness and our unprecedented, like-never-before-in-history-ability to communicate, share, mobilize and change, why wouldn't we? More importantly, why wouldn't you?
Which walls are you going to tear down?