Worldwide trends usually take a few years to reach Hong Kong. We are always behind the times. Our social media-driven revolution that has fuelled the current unrest is no exception. Instead of Twitter and Facebook, our young rebels use Telegram and lihkg.com . But from Gezi Park in Istanbul to Tahrir Square in Cairo, revolutions and rebellions driven by social media have all ended in failure. We are just watching an old movie with a predictable ending and didn’t know it. The narcissism of many Hong Kong people makes them think they are special. Spontaneous, leaderless, and massive, they think their social movement is the greatest thing since teenage sex. What is LIHKG and how did it become go-to forum for Hong Kong’s protesters? But those are the characteristics of movements driven by social media. They can’t translate protests into political capital or bargaining chips. Because their protests encompass and amplify practically every major grievance people have about their government, society and China, it’s impossible to bridge disagreements and present a viable political programme. The only common denominator, the lowest, is that everyone hates China. But hate cannot produce policy or legitimacy; disruption tears down but does not build. People should watch the 2015 TED Talk given by Wael Ghonim, the computer geek whose anonymous Facebook page helped trigger the mass rallies in Tahrir Square that caused the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. “The euphoria soon faded … We failed to build consensus, and the political struggle led to intense polarisation,” he said. “Social media only amplified the polarisation by facilitating the spread of misinformation, rumours, echo chambers and hate speech. The environment was purely toxic. The online world became a battleground filled with trolls, lies, hate speech.” Sound familiar? Opportunistic American politicians intervene and encourage our young people to think they are heroes on the international stage. They say people everywhere yearn for freedom and democracy but will not admit people can have freedom and wealth without their version of democracy. They uncritically support any locals who ape Western standards – all the better if they speak good English – only to turn away when things fall apart. People can only live with chaos and instability for so long. Eventually, they will demand their old, stable and predictable life back. Few governments understand the powers and pitfalls of social media better than China. When this unrest dies down, Beijing will take over. All that our young rebels will achieve is to accelerate the end of “one country, two systems”.