Is Everyone Really Tweeting?

In his article, Bill Wasik makes the claim that social media has played an extraordinary role in the organization and spread of riot and protests in the 21st century. However, it is important to question how absolute this claim really is and to not automatically give this technological phenomenon more credit than the ability of mankind to organize without such resources. This especially important considering that the make up of the Occupy Wall Street movement consists of people from all different demographic backgrounds including social class. It can be argued that a significant number of these people are of lower economic class, a huge motivation for joining the movement, and therefore may not able to afford such luxuries as smart-phones and laptops.

Therefore, it is important to not discredit the power that lies within mankind unaided by technology so organize such protests, a claim made by Malcolm Gladwell in his article. Gladwell shows that the same ability to organize that was present in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the U.S., a time without any internet, texting, or tweeting, was used in the revolt in Moldova in 2009. This protest was labeled the “Twitter Revolution”; however, few twitter accounts even existed in that country at that time.

While there certainly are plenty of twitter accounts and the such involved in the Occupy Wallstreet Movement, there must also be that same form of technologically unaided organization present in this movement because, demographically speaking, the protestors consist of those in a low economic classes. These people therefore, would be unlikely to afford such means of technological communication and would have had to have been influenced into joining the movement the old fashioned way that Gladwell claims was a more legitimate form of  human activism. 

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3 responses to “Is Everyone Really Tweeting?

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Do you have evidence to support your claim that the bulk of the protestors are from a “low” economic class?

  2. While your point of not assuming that everyone has access to the means of high-speed communication is a good one, I want to question your claim that a “significant number” of the OWS protesters are in a “lower economic class”. (You do say it’s arguable, but in your last paragraph your phrasing enters claim territory.)

    Lower than what, for one? And each Occupy site has different demographics simply by virtue of location – but because you say Wall Street I will assume you mean the NYC location and not the movement as a whole. One of the more well-known surveys of OWS protester demographics, from Baruch College, was conducted via the internet so for the purposes of your post, I will focus on a survey done through in-person interviews by a professor from Fordham University. The numbers here show nothing to support your claim; rather, the average appears to be solidly middle-class when using education and employment as the criteria. In addition, when one looks at the Wireless Association’s wireless subscription data for 2011, the percentage of the USA with subscriptions is 102.4% – this suggests that it is, in fact, quite easy for large swaths of the population to obtain cell phones. (This does not specify cases of multiple ownership, true, but I would think that such instances, while most likely due to high affluence, may also prove ease of access.)

    I agree that it is important to not discredit those who have no access to such technology, but I feel that it would serve them better to find good statistics that support your point.

    – Cody VC

  3. After substantial research I have found a study that supports the claim I made in this very first post I made! I used this chart in my most recent of posts to support the claim that I have been exploring in my analysis of Occupy Wall Street: The OWS movement may claim to represent the 99% but in fact it is failing to do so. In the above post I made a claim that not perhaps this movement is not fueled by twitter as much as is though because a significant portion of OWS supports are of a lower social class. This chart, explained in more detail in its original post, shows that 46.5% of respondents had a average income of less than 25,000$ a year. In addition, when surveyed only 20.1% of respondents were even using twitter, the vast majority of them claiming to have been moved to join the cause by Youtube.

    Here is the link to the chart:
    https://owsanalysis.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/a-visual-representation-12/

    I hope this lays down a little more concrete evidence behind the claim I aimed to make in this post!

    -Caitlin J.

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