Tweeting Up a RevolutionOctober 18, 2010 Leave a comment
Part Two of a Response to Malcolm’s Missive
Gladwell misses the mark with two key parts of his argument. First is his misunderstanding of how weak-ties and strong-ties play play out in social media networks. Second is his defense of hierarchical, centralized structures, which is based on a clear (and popular) misreading of how the civil rights movement actually happened.
Even when we surpass our fear of authentic relationships and the hard work that these take to sustain, we are still left with a limited bandwith for how many such relationships we can individually keep. One of the numbers I’ve heard thrown around is 150 –
at most, we can sustain 150 real relationships. Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook might not necessarily expand this capacity, but they provide an incredibly important means for us to keep our hot-ties warm.
For example, I am blessed to meet way more amazing people than I can actually stay in touch with. I continually find myself in authentic exchanges with many of the individuals who actually want revolution – people that want to act to magnify our shared power to determine our destiny. Social media tools help me keep them in my awareness even when I am not actually able to pursue the depths of relationship that I yearn to have with them.
By staying loosely in touch through tools like Facebook and Twitter we remain loosely aware of what each of us are up to, we get a glimpse into the complexity of movement within the living network that is currently conspiring for revolution. The moments of true connection – of face to face real world engagement – are held together through light touches in the virtual world.
When we come together in well facilitated processes we discover our shared purpose and we learn to trust it. This trust allows us to understand that each of us is doing something in our respective real world localities, in actual places, with actual people who we can look at, feel and touch. These local offline nodes interconnect in virtual realms, ideas are exchanged and momentum is gained. Social-media allows us to nurture the right conditions for self-organized emergence – when the time comes, we know how to move and we move in concert with the work we have been doing.
If you were hoping that Twitter, Facebook and online petitions would allow you to click your way to a revolution, then you were wrong in the first place – a new world is actually built when we become masters in the practice of new ways of being-with. But if you were already taking the necessary risks to build true relationships – the sort of relationships that actually change you, the kind that very often might hurt you – then social media tools like can serve to keep your hot-ties warm, connected to other nodes, aware that something is brewing and exchanging ideas for how to do it – all the while staying fully grounded in life in the real world.