Much has been made of the use of twitter, facebook and other social media in enabling the Arab Spring to unfold and obtain some of its goals in a number of places.
But, are twitter and facebook and other social media really the way to go??
As this is an experiment that I am carrying out (for my own interest and in part to try and determine if there is any influence to be got through these means: blogging and tweeting) and I have found it intriguing and engaging and interesting at times and at other times … well even boring.
But, why the neo-liberals have been successful is that they have consistently engaged in agreeing to and repeating the same slogans and prhases (i.e. framing) and have kept repeating these terms in a coherent, cohesive manner which ensures the message’s meaning is conveyed like a meme throughout the body politic.
Twitter and facebook on the other hand encourage all of us to engage and ‘follow’ (and/or be followed by) each other, to post others’ videos, selection of news items and to engage in commenting on each other’s blog or YouTube video. Yet, these forms are all quite individualised forms of communication, by which people ‘retweet’ other tweeters. As one person asked recently, do tweeters talk to more people than just each other?
Does tweeting just become another means to avoid or ignore one’s alienation from one’s neighbours, friends, family or work colleagues?? Is it merely a distraction from such boring TV?
While I remain hopeful and intrigued by the process – still – I do find myself wondering how is twitter, as a technology, (for those of us that want our world, our systems of governance to live up to their claims) going to enable progressive, justice-oriented coalitions to win power? Or is it really simply another form of narcissistic consumerism that helps people feel they are engaged in some actual activism?