Week 12

This week’s readings focused on the “Twitter Revolution” in Iran, and how much of an impact Twitter really had in the revolution. Morozov and Gladwell are skeptical about calling the revolution a “Twitter Revolution.” As we have read, Morozov does not believe that social media play an important role in revolutions. He believes that Twitter is limited in the amount of substantial information it can pass on because of the 140 character limit. However, face to face communication is never limited and should be the basis for all revolutions. As far as the Iran revolution is concerned, there were not a lot of Twitter accounts by the people of Iran. Most of the re-tweeting came from western people who were picking up on the story. Morozov uses the telephone game example to show how the information was not coming from people actually in the revolution as much as everyone thinks. Overall, he thinks Americans tend to over-estimate the value of Twitter in revolutions.

Gladwell is slightly more optimistic about the potentials of social media, but he still does not believe it can be the basis of a revolution. He does acknowledge that Twitter makes it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coordinate, and voice their concerns. However, he agrees with Morozov in that Twitter was not a central part of the revolution, rather a secondary tool that spread the news to western societies. Although social media makes it easier for people to voice their opinions, there is no order to the protest. This is due to the fact that there can’t be a social hierarchy through social media. Finally, he brings up the idea of “slacktivism” which means you feel like you are more involved but you really aren’t doing that much in the grand scheme of things. Social media may increase activism but it actually lowers the amount you have to do to be considered an activist. While I agree with the last point by Gladwell, I would argue that little involvement is better than none at all. The problem is when people who were actively protesting in the streets or wherever stop doing this because they feel social media protests are enough. I would argue that social media do not stop the activists from getting out in the street and protesting.

 

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1 Response to Week 12

  1. Do you really think that behavior online actually parallels real world action? At least based on the readings we’ve done — particularly the study of Illinois students and their voting behavior in the Obama elections — doesn’t it seem that what happens online isn’t necessarily a mirror of what goes on on the ground? Is there some particular reason why you’d think that social media can get people out on the streets? Isn’t it possible that just because citizens have knowledge because of the diffusion of information, it doesn’t mean that necessarily mean that knowledge will translate into actions?

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