From the Editors
[This post is part of an ongoing Profile of a Contemporary Conduit series on Jadaliyya that seeks to highlight prominent voices in and from the Middle East and North Africa.]
Jadaliyya: What do you think are the most gratifying aspects of Tweeting and Twitter?
Ghazi Gheblawi: The freedom to write your thoughts without many restrictions, whether they are grammatical or linguistic, and the concise nature of Twitter, make it important to form ideas and thoughts in a very brief, focused and informative style. The other aspect is that most social, cultural or socioeconomic barriers relatively disappear on Twitter. People from different backgrounds and cultures can interact with each other regardless of status or position in life.
J: What are some of the political/social/cultural limits you’ve encountered using the platform?
GG: Twitter made it possible for people from different backgrounds to interact. It’s a more open free platform than other social networks, and from my experience the only limitation is the number of followers one can interact with in one time. Otherwise, a person from a developed country has the chance to engage freely with a person in a developing country without much of a problem as far as they use the same language to interact.
J: In your experience and use of Twitter, do you feel it helps mobilize or disorganize? Focus or crowd? Is it manageable or noisy? Can it help persuade and mobilize or does it turn everyone into a voyeur and spectator?
GG: Twitter, as any other platform, depends on the way users exploit its different aspects. In my experience, Twitter can be anything you want it to be; but first the user must ask him/herself, "what do I want to use this platform for?"
From my experience, it’s much more manageable than other platforms, and the noise can be easily controlled if you get grips on a small number of options. However, there is another side of Twitter that can be misleading: it can give you a false sense of confidence and importance, it can also limit the scope of information and opinion you are exposed to, and in some cases it can skew the image that you are looking into to form an opinion.
J: How has Twitter helped your cause or hindered your cause? Does Twitter turn activists into armchair activists (Slacktivists)?
GG: During the Libyan revolution, Twitter was important for many activists to circulate and share crucial information, especially [considering] that the number of Libyan activists that used Twitter in 2011 was not more than a couple thousand who were engaged in different activities. They used Twitter selectively to share, organise, and focus on breaking the barrier of silence the Gaddafi regime used to misinform international media.
It is true that many users of Twitter might turn into slacktivists, which I don't find beneficial, but the more users we can get to inform, the better results we can achieve with the majority of users who only use the platform occasionally and without a cause.
J: In what ways has Twitter helped you as a source of information? How do you sift through that information and determine its credibility?
GG: Twitter was and continues to be a very reliable source of information in my work; however, it is important to develop a process for efficient use, through experience when dealing with certain sources of information, and it is crucial to develop a certain physical interaction with your sources, and not rely on virtual interaction with avatars and nicknames only.
J: What sort of tweets did you find to draw the most response and circulation?
GG: That depends on the type of people that you follow, or follow you. Interestingly, I tweet in both English and Arabic, on Libyan affairs, and most of the time the English tweets draw much more response than the Arabic tweets of the same piece of information. Also, opinionated tweets on certain issues (social, religious, political) and debates on current matters develop many responses and interactions, but all this depends on how deep you are engaged with the followers and how dynamic the small community you develop on Twitter is.
If you prefer, email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hot on Facebook
"The rise of Arab Nationalism and invention of the handheld transistor radio proved a fatal combination."click | email | tweet
Jad NavigationView Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
From Jadaliyya Reports
Jadalicious / جدلشس
Latest EntriesView All Entries »
- Reports Roundup (May 18)
- Injuries, Arrests and House Raids: The Case of a Bahraini Family
- الليبرالية الفلسطينية أمام القضاء الإسرائيلي
- ما هي النكبة؟
- Academic Freedom and the Middle East: A Handbook for Teaching and Research
- Syria's Inglorious Basterd
- Maghreb Media Roundup (May 17)
- Buckling to Bigotry: The Newseum Dishonors Murdered Palestinian Journalists
- كتب: أطفال الندى
- Statement of the Arab and Middle East Journalists Association in Reference to Newseum Scandal
- New Texts Out Now: Maya Mikdashi, What is Settler Colonialism? and Sherene Seikaly, Return to the Present
- On the Margins Roundup (May)
- On the American Association of University Professors' Opposition to Academic Boycotts
- The Palestinian Museum: An Agent Of Empowerment And Integration For Palestinians
- An Ongoing Displacement: The Forced Exile of the Palestinians
- Syria Media Roundup (May 16)
- The Ongoing Nakba: The Forcible Displacement of the Palestinian People
- Nakba 2013: The Palestinian Youth Movement Commemorates 65 Years of Al Nakba (Introduction)
- النكبة، هنا، الآن
- حول استبعاد النكبة الفلسطينية من دراسات الصدمة