Reese Erlick debunks the hoop-la about the “Twitter Revolution” in Iran:
First of all the vast majority of Iranians have no access to Twitter. While reporting in Tehran, I personally didn’t encounter anyone who used it regularly. A relatively small number of young, economically well off Iranians do use Twitter. A larger number have access to the Internet. However, in the beginning, most demonstrations were organized through word of mouth, mobile phone calls and text messaging.
But somehow “Text Messaging Revolution” doesn’t have that modern, sexy ring, especially if you have to type it with your thumbs on a tiny keyboard.
More importantly, by focusing on the latest in Internet communications, cable TV networks intentionally or unintentionally characterize a genuine mass movement as something supported mainly by the Twittering classes.
The mass movement that sprang forth in the past few weeks has been 30 years in coming. It’s not a Twitter Revolution, nor even a “velvet revolution” like those in Eastern Europe.
This whole Twitter Revolution notion has more to do with Westerners being able to see the twits, while the reporters on the scene have been severely restricted. I heard an Iranian-American reporter on the Diane Rehm Show last week. At one point, she asked him a question and he answered quite bluntly, “I can’t talk about that.”
Some reporters and commentators–Andrew Sullivan, whose blog is a regular daily stop for me, is a prominent example–have been all gaga about collecting and publishing bits from Twitter, as if they somehow give a picture of what is happening in Iran. His enthusiasm is impressive and his sympathy for the underdog is commendable, but I skip those posts, just as Karen skips anything I post here about Linux
(Indeed, Sullivan has turned his blog all green as a sign of solidarity. I wore a black armband after the shootings at Kent State. Same difference, same lack of influence on the long-term course of events).
Reading the twits doesn’t help me understand what’s happening in Iran, no more than drinking Fresca truly quenches a thirst.
But if a thirsty man can’t find water, he’ll drink Fresca.