When millions are shouting, can we hear anyone?

Twitter has rightfully been praised for fostering an explosion of citizen journalism, but worthwhile content on the forum seems the exception to the rule.

Share
Related Topics

George Galloway blocked me on Twitter. I tweeted him, he read what it said and then headed for the block button. No conversation, no debate, no nothing.

He won't remember what I said to him and he won't remember blocking me. And nor should he. The reality is that I am just another person on Twitter. I am of little significance to him or to anyone else. I'm just another face in an incredibly large crowd. George will have read my tweet, blocked me and immediately forgotten I existed.

We like to think that Twitter is something rather special. We like to think it gives a platform to previously silenced people who can now make their voice heard. Social media, the cliché says, is changing the world. But when millions of people are all shouting at once can we really hear anybody?

Many of us have rightly heaped praise on Twitter over the past few years. It played an important role in the Arab Spring, helping a generation of people who believed in a better life to communicate and co-ordinate their efforts, ending the rule of oppressive regimes. The tweets of an IT consultant in Northern Pakistan provided an unlikely live commentary of the US Army ending their near decade long quest to find Osama bin Laden. The rise of citizen journalism is forcing news agencies to adapt to a world where they no longer have a monopoly on the facts. Twitter has no doubt done a lot of good.

But all this seems to be the exception, not the rule. On Twitter right now there are millions of people with something to say, and millions of others not listening. Grammatically-deficient hashtags take pride of place in the "Top Trends" whilst tweets telling of human rights abuses make little impact. Real stories get lost among the pictures of peoples' dinners and the joke about "hamburgers" being an anagram of "shergar bum", as tweeted by pretty much everyone in existence. In a world where we all have something to say it can be incredibly hard to make anybody listen. People who are already famous make the biggest impact. Well-established news agencies are still trusted and used by the majority. It's not as simple as logging on and talking to the world.

In the end, what I said to George Galloway doesn't even matter. He didn't have an epiphany and he didn't change his opinions. He just didn't really care and nobody else did either. I didn't change the world.

And I didn't even get to swear at him.

Kevin Anderson is studying an MSc in Investigative Journalism at the University of Strathclyde

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower