Rough rough draft of how #metoo can be linked to Twitter movements as a whole as well as some discussion on the impact/influence of Twitter.
Social media and advancing technological communication has often been blamed for separating and individualising people, as they live and communicate with others through communication mediums such as email, Facebook messenger, private messages on Instagram/Twitter etc., rather than in-person. However, social media platforms such as Twitter, have enabled for communities to emerge as they find mutual connections, transcending geographical boundaries of the ‘real world’. Twitterstorms, to an extent, reflect this phenomenon.
The term ‘twtitterstorm’ is used to discuss certain spikes in activity surrounding particular topics and issues. Moreover, it is powerful in that it generates social action, expanding the issue to other social media platforms but also tangible action outside of the virtual world of social media, communication mediums. This phenomenon could be seen in #Ferguson, as it led to street protests and to a lesser extent, #taketheknee. The #MeToo movement is an example of social action being instigated by a contemporary issue, born out of social medi.
Contextually, the idea of Twitter and collective action is, therefore, a 21st-century issue. The 2009 Twitter Revolutions debate discussed “whether Twitter triggers revolutions, and whether twittered uprisings are effective”(Segerberg). Although Segerberg considered larger, general social protest movements such as climate change protests, this question can be applied more specifically to the #MeToo movement, the answer to which would be yes. Indeed, looking at the actions taken in response to the hashtag has revealed countless claimed perpetrators, who are under investigation.
Gladwell (2010), however, argues that social media activism cannot “bring about systemic change” as it “fails to generate committed collective action when the going gets tough.” The outcome of the #MeToo movement is yet to be known, however, in this particular issue, coming out as a victim of sexual harassment or assault on such a public platform, is arguably, in itself “tough” and the sheer responses to the hashtag (Ciara stats) whether directly on Twitter or externally such as the growth of the Time’s Up movement and symbolic support to the movement, is proof that it has generated committed collective action. Moreover, he states “the instruments of social media… are not a natural enemy of the status quo,” yet again, the #MeToo movement shows how this has evolved, as it has provided a voice and a platform to those who might have felt marginalised in society, by sharing their stories with others who had suffered similar experiences.
Alexandra Segerberg, “Social Media and the Organization of Collective Action: Using Twitter to Explore the Ecologies of Two Climate Change Protests”. The Communication Review. Vol 14 Issue 3 (2011). pg 197-215 doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10714421.2011.597250
Malcolm Gladwell. “Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted”. The New Yorker, Oct 4 2010 (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell)