Category Archives: Social Media

Politics, #p2, and Being Purposefully Pugnacious

Yesterday I unfollowed a whole host of “#p2” tweeters. For those unfamiliar to the “#p2” concept on Twitter, allow me to briefly explain. The “#p2” hashtag is used by progressive, liberal minded/leaning, lefties to denote a tweet espousing political and social beliefs related to such positions.

As a woman of highly liberal and left leaning politics and social concepts, I was an ardent follower of many members of this Twitter community. These are people who believe in the same style of politics, the same social obligations and policies that I believe in. Following them, conversing with them, debating with them is one of the main reasons I was drawn to Twitter in the first place and the reason I have stayed on Twitter for nearly a year.

But I have noticed that in the last few months the tone, method of communicating one’s point and debate styles have changed. Once open minds now seem closed to opinions other than their own. Tweets between tweeters have been filled with nitpicking, backbiting, brazenly rude and personal attacks. Rather than foster open debates about the Left, Democratic Party, and President Obama, his administration, and policy decisions, “#p2” has fractured. Now splintered into several camps, each with their own de facto leader and list of persons who the group must be unanimously opposed to, civility, it seems, is gone. Rather than fostering an environment of: “We can all support a common aim whilst being critical of that goal and the means by which we achieve it,”  “#p2” has become a land of “with us or against us.” When did the national left become the flag bearers of post-9/11 Bush doctrine? When did we buy into the “if you don’t agree with me 100% you’re the enemy”?

I support President Obama. I supported him in 2008, I voted for him, and I have in the time since then, been an ardent fan and believer in the progress and change brought about by his administration. But what is missing from “#p2,” what has become a prickly point of contention is whether or not one can be a supporter of Obama whilst being critical of him. Since the spring this has led to numerous eruptions within Twitter-land. While I understand the sentiment by some Obama supporters that many have turned on him at the first sight of something they disagree with (and certainly the “primary Obama” mess was just stupid), support for Obama can’t be so unwavering that it comes without critical examination.

Is Obama our savior, here to deliver us ponies and rainbows? Hardly. But support of a party, a candidate, an administration has to be critical in order to be effective, otherwise we begin down a Stalinist slippery slope towards zero political dissension. Someone voicing concern or consternation over an Obama decision, or lack of one, isn’t a sign that the party is falling apart and the GOP is going to take over the world. It’s a sign that members of our electorate care enough not to follow blindly, not to fall lockstep behind the loudest or most obnoxious voice. Obama isn’t infallible. His administration isn’t infallible. The Left isn’t infallible. Criticism doesn’t expose infallibility to the sharp knife of a take over. No. Criticism fosters analysis. Criticism asks all participants to constantly strive for better.

I can be critical of Obama without being anti-Obama. I don’t vote based on what someone says on Twitter, so why would I attack someone on Twitter simply because he or she is disliked by members of “#p2”? I thought the Left was better than this. I thought we were better than the cheap-shot taking, chew-up-and-spit-out-anyone-with-a-different-opinion Right. Clearly I was wrong.

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Filed under Culture, Politics, Social Media, Twitter, US

Tim Corrimal Show, Episode 158 – March 6, 2010

Another week, another great podcast from Tim Corrimal (“The Tim Corrimal Show” and @timcorrimal on Twitter).

This week Tim is joined by his co-host Dave von Ebers (@dave_von_ebers on Twitter), Jay Tomlinson (@BestofTheLeft on Twitter) and Jimmy Dore (“The Jimmy Dore Show” and podcast).

Check out Tim’s website for this week’s Twitter friends of the week.

Please listen in this week, at the beginning of the podcast Tim talks about how a government “shutdown” does and doesn’t work. I will confess to my ignorance, but no more! Tim clarifies it splendidly! I really recommend it for everyone.

Excellent point made by Jay Tomlinson that I would like to talk about briefly, but really EVERYONE needs to listen to the podcast this week. If you haven’t tuned in to Tim’s show before, please, please, please tune in this week!

Jay mentioned, about 32 minutes into the podcast, that the GOP’s rhetoric is structured to frame the Democrats as women, children, or homosexuals. He is absolutely right! He hit the nail on the head with his comment. The level of acceptable misogyny and homophobia from the Right in this country is maddening! No wonder it is so easy for the Right to indiscriminately harm women and children in budget cuts, to continue to campaign against equal rights and protections for homosexuals. Women have always been an easy target for those seeking to make an example out of “entitlements.” The Right has always, always, always blamed the Left for entitlements. And when they come through, as they do cyclically, with a machete to slash and burn spending it’s entitlements that get hit the most and it’s entitlements that disproportionally assist women, children, and minorities. To frame the entirety of the Left as women and children, etc, is to perpetuate the notion that women and children don’t need or don’t deserve help when needed or representation in government. This is the perpetual wedge of the Right to separate the women’s movement from the liberal movement and to end government assistance. This past fall was the first time since 1979 that the US lost women in government. The US is ranked 90th in the world for women in legislative positions. Only 17% of elected representatives in Washington are women. Rwanda, for example, has 76%. The US ranks behind Iraq, China, Cuba, among others.

The rhetoric of the Right isn’t just designed to belittle and marginalize the Left, but to weaken their efforts and ideas by associating them with being feminine, childish or gay. No wonder, as I mention in another post here, that women on the Right don’t identify with “feminism” and actively work against that term and everything it connotes.

I’ve been reading Christine Stansell’s The Feminist Promise, and she ends the last chapter with the following which seems quite appropriate for this discussion:

“No longer simply a family romance, the commitment to women in this century when so much is at stake demands undeniably  on the fact that women must take their place with a new generation of brothers in a struggle for the world’s fortunes. Herland, whether of virtuous matrons or daring sisters, is not an option. Many of the stumbling blocks to women’s full participation ate the same, but the stakes of success are that much higher. In the twenty-first century, the well-being and liberty of women cannot be separated from democracy’s survival.” (394)

The success and rights of women are inextricably tied up with the rights and success of humanity at large. The GOP has never understood that and never will. It is in their interest to continue to subjugate women and minorities.

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Filed under Politics, Social Media, Twitter

Women’s History Month: Twitter For Feminists

First update for Women’s History Month! Woo!

FeministFatale.com posted a GREAT blog entry today on feminist organizations, activists, authors, etc, on Twitter. It’s almost the ultimate guide! Get to following!

Here are some additions of my own:

@TheChickAbides
@Feminists4Choice
@GlobalFundWomen
@ClinicEscort
@annapulley
@DeliaCabe
@EngyG
@citygirlblogs
@NOWYoungFems
@SandraBernhard
@KathyGriffin
@MargaretCho
@indydina
@JoeMyGod
@QueerMeRoar
@WomenCount
@nwlc
@Fem2pt0
@monaeltahawy
@fbhutto
@glaad
@SandiBehrens
@maddow
@P1Lal

UPDATE: Want to add @toywithme for great, frank posts on sex and sexuality. Great stuff.

UPDATE: @hubbit kindly recommended Cara Kulwicki and her two handles: @thecurvature and @Feministe. I warmly pass them on to you.

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Filed under Feminism, Social Media, Twitter

Twitter, Part 2

Last night I posted some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain about the role of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media/networking sites in the current protests and revolutions in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. Frustrations that I have had about the US media constantly asking if this is a “Twitter Revolution” coupled with Wael Ghonim’s developing brand “Revolution 2.0” led me to discuss the need for clarifying the difference between a social media revolution and a revolution assisted by social media.

In my haste to post and my desire to get much-circulated thoughts out of my head, my post over stated some facts. I was correct in noting that Facebook and several blogging sites have been blocked in Syria since 2007. However, as of yesterday most of those sites had been opened up in Syria, though it seems they have been opened in a limited capacity. The UAE has also blocked social networking sites since 2007, though it appears many Emirati have found ways around these blocks, or the blocks aren’t still in effect. Though Egypt ran a tight police state under Mubarak which included internet controls, Facebook accounted for about 42% of all internet traffic in the week leading up to the start of the January 25 movement. By just looking at the amount of Facebook and Twitter traffic in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, and Jordan it is easy to posit that such sites have played a significant role in the current situations. This is especially the case given the exceedingly high youth population in these countries (30-60%) and their propensity for social media use. But what has been most notable about these movements is that they aren’t limited to one age group, one social group, one religion. Egyptians toppled Mubarak, not young Muslims. Men, women, children; Muslims and Christians; young and old; employed and unemployed. All of Egypt spoke up. All of Egypt took to the streets.

Social media, social networking, whatever you want to call it, is great for many things. It has provided means of communication for a lot of the world. It’s role in the current uprisings in the Middle East is as a tool of communication, certainly, but more for those outside the situation than in. No one is in the streets protesting their grievances because of Twitter or Facebook. Social media gets the word out. It’s a way to advertise the resistance, but the resistance exists apart from the medium. Period.

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Filed under Facebook, Middle East, Social Media, Twitter

All Atwitter About Twitter

Yesterday, I blogged about what I, along with many others, see as the primary reasons for the Egyptian revolution. In that post I spoke briefly about the role social media has and hasn’t play in the revolution. Discussions in the media regarding social media sites (Twitter and Facebook in particular) seem not only to be rampant but growing. So, let’s talk about Twitter and Facebook.

It would be nice if in their incessant coverage, the media would note the difference between social media leading to or causing the revolutionary activities in the Islamic world and social media being a helpful tool. Twitter, Facebook, et al, have been the Scottie Pippen to the revolution’s Michael Jordan. Not useless, not marginal by any means, but no more than a solid assist. What social media has accomplished, quite successfully I might add, is galvanize shared feelings across nations, regions and the world. Egyptians, and Egyptian-Americans were able to tap into their collective outrage over the beating death of Khaleed Said in the Facebook group “We are all Khaleed Said.” Tweeters have been able to follow journalists, bloggers, activists, and young voices in Egypt and out of Egypt who have been tweeting about the country, the regime, and the outrage of the people for some time. When the US media didn’t begin coverage of Egypt till January 28 (day four of the protests on January 25), Twitter and Facebook were useful in getting voices, messages, pictures, and videos out to the world, a world that was still mostly ignoring the situation.

But to imply, as many have including the revolution’s de facto patron saint Wael Ghonim, that such revolutionary actions would not have taken place if not for social media is, in my opinion, giving such sites too much credit. Mr. Ghonim gave an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” in which he birthed his “Revolution 2.0” phrase, his way of describing youth organization and galvanization in the internet age (and also, rumor has it, the title of the book he’s writing). To be fair, the internet and social media have made a significant difference in how people around the world acquire information and communicate with each other. But Facebook isn’t getting butts in the streets, certainly not for 18 days. Twitter isn’t toppling dictatorships. They are tools to organizing, means of communication, ways of unifying like-minded individuals. The tools intrinsic to social media make revolutions easier and more noticeable, but that’s it.

I look forward to Mr. Ghonim’s book, considering his job as an executive with Google it will undoubtedly weigh the role of the internet fairly. At least I hope it will. But in order to do that Mr. Ghonim needs to be clear on a few things, Facebook has been blocked in Syria and the UAE among many other countries for years. So, how can it lead to revolution? Facebook is great for those outside the region, but in it? Not that much. Twitter and Facebook are fantastic tools for communication, but over-stating their power marginalizes the efforts of masses of people who lack access to these sites yet still demonstrate proudly in the streets of cities across the Middle East.

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Filed under Facebook, Middle East, Social Media, Twitter