Tweeting Out Reactance

turkey-twitterOn to Chapter 7…

Interesting story here on what happened in Turkey a few years ago when the government banned Twitter. Short answer? Twitter use skyrocketed.

Reactance at its finest, perhaps?

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12 Responses to Tweeting Out Reactance

  1. Gideon Wulfsohn says:

    Phenomenal piece. It reminds me of the situation during the Arab Spring in Egypt where Twitter become inaccessible on the 25th of January in 2011. Some even went so far as to claim that the country had shut down the entire internet. In reaction to this, a bunch of Google and Twitter engineers banded together to build a service called “Speak to Tweet” where according to Google’s blog users could leave a voicemail at a particular number and the content would be tweeted out with #Egypt, making the microblogging platform available the people who were trapped without internet access. It is amazing how usage increased despite the lesser non native interface, and what is even more amazing is how certain characters rose as Twitter celebrities from this whole mess. For example, Wael Ghonim (@Ghonim) now has 2.8m followers and has solid a startup to Quora as a result of the growth in Twitter interest from the messy situation. Crazy how powerful reactance can be!

    • Profile photo of Ki Jung Lee Ki Jung Lee says:

      I agree because Arab Spring immediately came to my mind. Also, China censorship came to my mind as well. In China, the government banned Google and Youtube, and many popular medias in the United States. I was initially worried that people in those countries would not have an access to the other countries. However, I was wrong and people’s reactance were very strong. They have been exposed to the freedom in using media before as many younger generations have traveled outside of their own nations. They created their own websites that are similar to the existing ones like Facebook, Youtube, and etc to keep themselves entertained and informed. I did not know the proper terminology to this idea, which is the reactance. I am also very surprised how powerful reactance is.

    • Daniel Dinjian says:

      I also thought this piece really captured the essence of reactance. With similarities to the Arab Spring and Chinese censorship on the other extreme, I kind of wonder if America is on its way towards some kind of revelation-revolution against the whole “fake news” fiasco our country is in. Like under certain regimes, they try to cut out voices and create the illusion of one united story, but in America, we’ve over expanded and there are so many sides of so many stories, real fake and conjecture, that you can take any side of any argument and have ‘reliable’ sources to back it up. So I wonder if there’s any chance of reactance working in reverse rather than to push against constraints, maybe it’s time we limit ourselves because there’s too much extra weight.

  2. Jason Mark says:

    I think you are noticing something that is really true and something can definitely carries within it a certain level of irony. So often, laws actually encourage and lead to an increase in precisely that which they seek to prohibit. I think there’s definitely a lot to delve into here surrounding “deviance” as a whole and the many factors that lead to its increase in a given context.

    • Gideon Wulfsohn says:

      I like this idea of looking at the topic from the perspective of deviance. At its core deviance and stigma go hand in hand and when tying these ideas into social media it is funny how the stigma around posting too much is removed when reactance takes flight. As people had a tougher time spreading ideas on the internet more people began to forget about the stigmas related to social media and these platforms became that much more powerful for catalyzing change.

    • Defiantly an ironic situation and the article does portray aspects of “deviance” in the actions of the people tweeting despite the law. It makes me think of children who are deviant in breaking rules set by their parents by doing things that they wouldn’t otherwise do without the rules permitting them from doing it. For example, children who intentionally leave their dishes in the sink because their parents told them to place them in the dishwasher. In a way, people are acting immature like these children breaking their parents rules by tweeting about the law, therefore breaking the law in itself.

      • Rachel Lai says:

        I definitely agree with a lot of what you’re saying, and talking about children defying their parents is a very interesting parallel. I agree that children are often immature when they break their parents’ rules, but I think the situation described in the article is different in some ways. Children often don’t like being told what to do, so they lash out and do what they’re told not to do. This comes off as very immature, but when a group of adults (like the people of Turkey) directly disobeys orders, I think their reactance is more complicated. Adults could feel threatened or suffocated and want to ensure their basic rights, so I think their actions (at least in this situation) stem from a need to protect themselves or make their opinions heard.

  3. Profile photo of bpastr01 bpastr01 says:

    Twitter is such an interesting example of a online public forum that can be censored. I’ve always thought Twitter was interesting because it doesn’t quite make sense that it has so much political power. These are complicated topics. They warrant more than the 140 characters that are allowed. Thus, I’ve always found Twitter’s power in politics to be quite unexpected, but it has proven itself again and again. People all over the world value their freedom of speech and ability to communicate over this social media, and when that value is taken away, reactance really does take hold. According to this logic, taking away Twitter or other powerful social media tools in this way really will backfire, as people fight more for things that they wholeheartedly believe in– they have a lot of motivation to do so. The above article is a great example illustrating this.

  4. This is so interesting to me especially in todays world because of how often the US president uses twitter. He uses it every day, multiple times a day. thinking about the US could go about banning twitter, and whether that would actually ever happen. It also made me think about the Arab spring, and how important the use of twitter and other banned social media became. In a way, twitter became more important when it was banned, because now people had something to say, but no platform upon which to say it.

    • Aubrey Tan says:

      You bring up a very valid point here that I didn’t even think about. Trump has gotten alot of flak about his long list of tweets. But I believe that most americans take social media use for granted since it hasn’t been restricted or banned much in its limited history. Your post makes me wonder if there would be another outlet where people can express their thoughts freely if twitter was to be shut down.

      • It’s interesting that when you think about it, social media is instead making people less social. Before the introduction of social media, the ideas stated on Twitter and other social media websites still existed. However, they were all communicated in real life. Even for me, it’s harder to think of communicating twitter opinions in real life. I think that the sheer contrast of our culture from the past to now has deemed it “more awkward” to an extent to voice out opinions in person in a public setting. Even rallies have been moved into the online sphere, for example where instead of attending a rally, you can just share a Facebook event or create a post.

        Additionally, the Twitter ban did not really achieve its purpose of banning the residents of Turkey from using Twitter, but instead it just widened the gap between people who are tech-savvy and those who are not, thus creating a community of those who oppose the government more.

  5. Zihan Chai says:

    Really interesting discussion.
    I think an important distinction between the Turkish government and the Communist Party in China, in terms of censoring the Internet, is how they tried to change people’s attitude toward Internet censoring.

    In Turkey, the president comes out to trash Twitter, and the decision is made public via a court. People, who think they love freedom, reacts against the threats to the freedom, and using Twitter becomes a symbol of resistance.

    In China, I would argue that the Internet censoring is way more systematic and smart (in a sad way, of course.) The government never comes out and publicly say that “okay, we are banning the foreign sites we don’t like.” No. In China, no official would even acknowledge the existence of the Great Firewall. Nor would acknowledge the existence of the general censorship. They asked Google to obey the Chinese laws, but never publicly say what the laws are. Using such a “double-speaking” strategy, it is harder to create a psychological reaction in China.

    More importantly, when sensing reaction, the Chinese government also hints the public how China has benefitted from the censorship. Google (including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Map), Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are all banned, allowing the Chinese tech companies to rise up. Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent would all face way more competition had the Silicon Valley giants been allowed in China. And this economic message works really well.

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