Category 1: Own stories
Many women decided to show their support to the trending hashtag by sharing their own stories on Twitter. Twitter as a platform enables them to share what they want to say to the world (this within the limit of 140 characters per a tweet) and this twitter storm enabled them to feel validated in sharing their experience with sexual misconduct as it rendered them part of a bigger movement of sensitization about the reality of what women go through on a day to day basis. Victims finally had a place where they could voice their stories and, allegedly, be heard and believed. It is something women can all relate to, even those who do not usually engage in ‘social media politics’ felt like they could because they were asked to share their own personal stories. As the multitude of tweets show and even as a quote from some of them, it is nearly impossible to find a woman who cannot on some level say me too. From the 15th of October Twitter was flooded with stories and what we would like to address here is who these stories were heard by.
Twitter’s workings make some accounts verified and high-profile, giving them much more visibility than normal accounts, therefore, while some tweets got over one thousand likes and hundreds of retweets, some got absolutely none.
As you can see, while a simple generic tweet saying just #metoo got 1.3k likes, more detailed tweets where women have taken their time and braved to share what has happened to them get none or very few likes or retweets. This arguably validates certain voices more than others.
But then again, does it really matter how many times a tweet was seen? Is that really what validates an experience and the contribution to the movement? We don’t believe that any experience is more valid than any other, and all women sharing this are of the same opinion, but it is arguable that by enabling some tweets to be seen more than others, putting them at the forefront of the twitter storm, it seems that the way that Twitter works is somehow validating some people’s #metoo over others.
This said, we do take into account that it is arguable whether this really matters, what matters most is that these people sharing their #metoo stories got the movement off the ground and the issue recognised and talked about.
Category 2: Skeptics
- Very few at the beginning, because there was a general enthusiasm for the movement and little reflection on what it actually means and was consequences it would have.
- These Tweeters share their doubt about the movement’s purpose and whether it will really change anything, which is an understandable position to hold about an activist movement on social media. They ask, what will tweeting #metoo change? They have voiced their experience over and over again and have not been heard or believed, and indeed, doubt whether simply tweeting that them too have been wronged and made a victim will change the way they feel about it or the way in which people listen to what they have to say.
- This tweet has noticed the same point we made in contrasting high-profile accounts with normal ones, (read tweet)
- It is notable to say that in this section, we have found very few liked and retweeted tweets, and they are not very numerous.
- It seems that people generally do not want to go against a popular trend, which is a way to qualify this twitter storm, on such a public platform. If they were to voice their full opinion about the movement they could easily be attacked and shamed by anyone, and there is no telling where this attack will end, the more a tweet is responded to, the more it is retweeted, the more it becomes visible. Therefore, many people surely restricted themselves to go against the movement, afraid they will be talked down to and labelled as an ‘anti-feminist’.
- So their voices are somewhat stifled too.
Category 3: Allies
- Many did not necessarily share their story but did share their support or simply reposted the generic tweet (show) to help raise awareness about the movement. This copy/paste action is very representative of twitter storms in general and is how they get off the ground.
- A lot of women simply rejoiced in the movement, in knowing that they are not alone and urging women to share their stories and speak up showing respect for those who have and comforting victims.
- Many accounts have actually been created for the sole purpose of adding their tweet to the #metoo movement.
- On some level, it seems to twitter movement has become some kind of trend, of fashion, where everyone must say #metoo and be part of this new and online feminist movement, part of all the ‘sisters’ who unite with similar stories. It enables anyone and everyone to feel like they are an activist of a sort and somehow this has become something that all women needed to be part of, and should even feel bad if they didn’t take part, it became something ‘cool’, the new trend to adopt. To the extent that accounts were created for that sole purpose, to be included.
- Talk about the tshirts and tweets that did not relate to the movement but said #metoo? (see with girls)
- It can be contended that this twitter storm, while it has very serious grounds and a powerful message, quickly became a sort of frenzy or a trend because of the way the social media platform and our society in general functions, where something becomes popular and therefore needs to be adopted by all, which on some level took a lot from the movement, rendering it less serious and profound but rather a cool new feminist hashtag, because it’s become ‘cool’ to be a feminist. And it took a lot from the voices of the victims, this aspect of the movement somewhat took what was a serious and difficult thing to say for a lot women and changed it into something that makes them part of a trend. This way, as a platform that creates trends and is used by so many, Twitter has arguably made of the #metoo movement a sort of trend, the ‘new thing to do’ in October 2017.