Let’s Talk About Blogs: The Onion

Onion

Time for one of my personal favourite blogs/news sites: The Onion. This blog is certainly the shining example of Political Satire, if nothing else. The reports do concern a number of recent events and can provide the news in a roundabout way, but most everything concerning The Onion is falsified and simply written for the sake of satire itself.

The Onion concerns itself largely with current events – and like all other blogs right now, the Boston Marathon Bombings take up a majority of the recent posts to the site. As is the norm with many humor sites, there are some language issues and (depending on how offensive you find swearing) may be best to avoid if you’d rather have the hard facts on reporting. However, seeing as reporters haven’t exactly wowed anyone with their deductive reasoning lately, The Onion may be just as good a source for your news as any other accredited station.

BREAKING

Semi-Detailed Review

General Theme: Satirical

Political Slant: Left

Cite Sources? Not typically.

How does the blog’s information compare to the newspaper? The paper certainly competes with quantity of news reports, but is somewhat higher on the scale of quality. Don’t go to The Onion for your news.

What you didn’t like: I love this site. There’s nothing for me to hate here.

A link to a specific post you felt was interesting: Next Week’s School Shooting Victims Thank Senate for Failing to Pass Gun Bill.

Let’s Talk About Blogs: Little Green Footballs

GreenFootballs

The minimalistic theme of Little Green Footballs was a bit bland for my tastes, but it didn’t stop the posts from being quite colourful and – a number of times – shocking. The blog is – like Daily Kos – a compilation of multiple authors reporting on similarly-minded subjects. However, unlike Kos, this blog seems highly-dedicated to pointing out the mistakes which mass media tends to make in reporting. Right now, it’s been dominated by the Boston Marathon Bombings, but they do offer a good place which pulls everything together in a clear picture.

Again, this is a socio-political or economic blog dependent on who the author is and what the latest happenings in the world are. It seems to be an entertaining blog to those who enjoy a bit more abrupt reporting or who like to confer with others about how ridiculous large media corporations can be. It’s one I would spend some time perusing, but I most likely wouldn’t be going back to check it out anytime soon.

Semi-Detailed Review

General Theme: Journalistic, Political, Media, Informative, Opinionated

Political Slant: Moderate to Left

Cite Sources? There are internal citations for most every article.

How does the blog’s information compare to the newspaper? There are probably too many opinions here to compete with real news, but the things reported are eye-opening and somewhat jaw-dropping.

What you didn’t like: I’m fine with the language and the voices, but the theme was the only truly grating thing to me. I personally dislike stark white pages.

A link to a specific post you felt was interesting: Anti-Muslim Demagogue Pamela Geller’s Firehose of Hate Speech. This is pretty much why I stay away from Wingnuts like Glen Beck and Pamela Geller.

Social Media and Revolution

Focus Questions:

  • Who do you think is “right” about social media’s role: Shirky? Gladwell? Both? And why?
  • How much do you think technology matters when it comes to politics in general and revolutionary change in particular? Do you think the revolution in Tunisia would have happened without social media? How about Egypt?
  • Are there potential “dark sides” or problems with the role social media is playing? What are they?

Social Media. The term itself instantly inspires the mind to think of networking sites where friends and family come together to share thoughts, events, photos, conversations, and videos with one another. Facebook. Twitter. Tumblr. Instagram. One could list social sites for hours upon hours without running out of titles. The internet is no longer simply a means of obtaining information on a myriad of subjects; the newer and perhaps more prominent purpose the net holds for a majority of society is that of being able to connect to one another via websites such as those listed above.

Now we must ask ourselves: as the connectivity between people increases and transforms, does the world around us begin to transform as well? Is social media contained solely to the internet, or does it manage to spill out into the world around us? And in what ways does it help or harm our global society? It’s a straightforward answer, really: As media awareness and the connection we have between others increases, so too does the influence it carries on the world. With 1.06 billion reported active Facebook users, 200 million active Twitter users, and 150 million Tumblr users[6], it’s difficult to believe that social media wouldn’t have anything but a profound impact upon the world.

Social Media and Revolution

January, 2011. No more than two years ago, Egypt found itself at a boiling point when poverty, unemployment, and government corruption were seemingly at an all-time high. President Hosni Mubarak, having held the throne for three decades, was seen as unfit for ruling the country by a majority of Egypt’s citizens. By January 25, the nation came to revolt in what they declared a “Day of Rage.” Protesting began in Cairo, where thousands of men and women came together to protest their government, crying “Down with Mubarak” throughout the streets. Other cities followed suit within hours of the revolution’s beginning with similar cries echoing through Alexandria, Mansura, Tanta, Aswan, and Assiut.[1]

What made this revolution so special was the mobilization of forces through the networking site Twitter. Almost as quickly as the protests and riots began, tweets about the were multiplying at an incredibly rapid pace. As demonstrated in the video below – which provides a graphic visual (created with the Gephi Graph Streaming plugin) on how quickly the retweeting of tweets containing the hashtag #jan25.[7] All data presented in the below demonstration was collected over the course of merely one hour.

Can we possibly say that technology didn’t play a massive roll in helping to publicize this event? I know that, personally, I wouldn’t have heard about this unless my friends had told me that there was some “crazy stuff going down on Twitter regarding Egypt.” Of course, I’m not as heavily-involved with Twitter as many of my friends; but it is funny that this is the first source where I heard anything at all about the crisis. Perhaps technology didn’t do much more than help to mobilize support and garner mass media interest, but its role was vital nonetheless.

Shirky, Gladwell, Both, or Neither?

So, who is right about social media? I believe Gladwell’s opinion and attitude regarding the matter can easily be summed up by one quote from his article Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted: “Are people who log on to their Facebook page really the best hope for us all?”[3] While I agree with the sentiment behind this statement – that it’s becoming ludicrious to how we’re coming to rely on faceless strangers to revolutionize and change our world through clicks of their mice – I’m not certain that such an incredulious question is worth the time to analyze. No, perhaps not every problem will be best solved through electronic means, but there are events which are best spread and solved by spreading through social networking and getting the masses involved in causes.

Shirky, unlike his contemporary, argues that social media has a profound impact on the political realm of any given country. He cites the 2001 impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada and how quickly a million protesters gathered in the streets of Manila to ensure his impeachment – all organized via a text which read “Go 2 EDSA. Wear Blk.”[5] In this case, seven million texts bearing this message were circulated within the country, causing many politicians to realize that perhaps the masses would easily be able to create changes through something as simple as a five-word text message.

Overall, I’d have to say that my vote goes to Shirky. Based on what we’ve seen – from the protests in Egypt to the 99% campaign here in America – social media has changed the way the game of politics is being played. As social networking evolves and grows, I truly do believe we’ll find the impact of social media only continuing to grow and change in coordination with its development. The dark side? Well, so far there isn’t much to worry about. But who knows if the tables could be turned to make a country collapse in on itself. I suppose only time will tell. Until then, happy tweeting.

Works Cited

[1] Al Jazeera and Agencies, comp. “Timeline: Egypt’s Revolution – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.” AlJazeera. Al Jazeera English, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 01 Mar. 2013.

[2] Finamore, Carl. “Why Egypt’s Revolution Is So Different.” CounterPunch (n.d.): n. pag.» Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names. 23 Feb. 2013. Web. 01 Mar. 2013.

[3] Gladwell, Malcom. “Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 10 Oct. 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

[4] Gladwell, Malcom, and Clay Shirky. “From Innovation to Revolution.” Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations, Mar.-Apr. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

[5] Shirky, Clay. “The Political Power of Social Media.” Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations, Jan.-Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

[6] Smith, Craig. “How Many People Use the Top Social Media, Apps & Services?” Web log post. Digital Marketing Ramblings. N.p., 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

[7] “The Egyptian Revolution on Twitter.” Web log post. Gephi. N.p., 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2013.