The Power of Social Media

I have had a social media account since I was in 7th grade, so I have essentially grown up in the age of social media.  I used social media in juvenile ways at first on Myspace in 2005, where I was able to interact with people in my local pop punk/hardcore music scene.  I met some really cool people as I was going into high school by attending these shows and I could sense that I was a part of a community thanks to social media.  As I went into high school, I started to use Facebook 2007, as it started to become popular, but it never became anything for me beyond interacting with my friends.  That changed slightly when I went to college in 2010 where I saw it as a place to connect with my students at my school and a forum to share interesting articles from the New York Times.  Then at the start of my spring semester in 2011, I saw the real power of social media with the Jan 25 protest in Tahrir Square, which led to the Arab Spring. I didn’t fully grasp what was happening at the time, but I knew it was a big deal.

2011_Egyptian_protests_Facebook_&_jan25_card.jpg

Zeynep Tufekci’s 2017 book, Twitter and Tear Gas, really showcased and gave the context too fully understand those movements.  The book highlights the impact that social media, and technology as a whole, had on protest movements around the work.  I love the book and think she has done a fantastic job encompassing all of these movements over the past twenty years while bringing in historical and technological context to these movements to explain why, how, and if they were successful.  It definitely shows us how big of an impact technology and social media can have on a society. It can be used for menial things like connecting with friends, family, and communities, but it can also be a tool for change around the world. One of the most interesting things about the book is that Tufekci was actually present at nearly all of these major protests around the world over the last twenty years, so she has extremely valuable firsthand experience to bring to this project and I’m glad she made it in a really accessible format.  I actually posted a picture of the book in my Instagram stories while reading it and I already have two friends that want to borrow the book after I’m done with it. I am still trying to figure out how this book will help me make my digital humanities project better, but I am really looking forward to discussing this book in class tomorrow!

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1 Response to The Power of Social Media

  1. erivka says:

    Your mention of punk and hardcore music makes me think of the underlying philosophies of these genres, which to my understanding (at least originally) had to do with rejecting the mainstream establishment–both musically and politically. I’m sure it varies and has perhaps changed over time, but I have friends for whom “punk” was far more than a musical preference, but very much a lifestyle and a political ideology. (As I was never into punk, these friends and I might as well have inhabited alternate universes in the ’90s.)

    In a New Yorker article on the NYC hardcore scene, Kelefa Sanneh argues that a “…focus on micro-politics, on scene citizenship, was central to hardcore…” You didn’t get into the band because you were a good musician; you got into the band because you were a “scene citizen.” You showed up, every show. This idea seems to apply to a certain degree to Tufecki’s “adhocracy” wherein the “leaders” of networked social movements are simply the people who show up enough to assert some level of leadership.

    Are there any hardcore social movement anthems? Seems like maybe that should be a thing, or maybe social movements, in their effort to gain mass appeal, can never be hardcore enough.

    See: Sanneh, Kelefa. 2015. “Outpunking the Punks,” March 2, 2015. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/03/09/united-blood.

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