This week focuses on a different subject than we have been studying; how the internet (most specifically Twitter) isn’t quite the powerhouse that people assume that it is. Morozov and Gladwell both provide compelling arguments as to how the public fell victim to the notion that Twitter and social networking sites were responsible for the revolution in Iran. The argument to be made is that social networking is powerful not because of the sites themselves, but because of how the public perceives them. If anything happens and Twitter was remotely involved, it’s easy to assume that nothing would have ever happened without it. The truth is that revolutions have been happening far before the advent of social networking.
Gladwell and Morozov draw on examples to emphasize the idea that Twitter is over-hyped as the backbone of the Iranian revolution. Morozov mentions that people in the U.S were actively blogging and making a bigger deal over what was happening in Tehran than the Iranians themselves. People wanted to believe that Twitter was “twitterizing the revolution”, when in reality it was all for show. Since traditional media was highly censored or just not allowed in general, people had to rely on the blogosphere for news about what was going on. Instead of concrete news and reporting, what people were hearing was mostly based on hear-say or pictures. The Twitter Revolution was invented by its own users in order to make itself important and genuinely happened in the U.S, not Iran.
The most important point that Gladwell focuses on is that revolutions have happened for centuries without the assistance of social networking. Sit-ins during the 60’s were able to occur and bring attention to important issues and everyone is well aware that they were not organized by someone tweeting to their friends about meeting at a lunch counter. I agree with this point because it is important that as a politically active citizen you have to question why social networking is now viewed as the only reasonable method of gathering people or causing mass social change. During the Vietnam War would the government have listened to protestors earlier if they used Twitter to voice their concerns and gather for a revolution? Who knows, and honestly in 5 years there will be another mode for inspiring social change so I think that we should focus more on what people are saying than how they are saying it.
My question for the class is: Do you think that if Twitter and all social networking was abolished World-wide today that protests like occupy Wall Street would be happening across the country the way that they are today? Can we really credit social networking with sparking revolutions similar to the one in Iran?