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The intimacy hypothesis

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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I’ve been using Twitter for a few years now and I still like it better than any other social media tool (although Google + is winning me over with it’s lovely clean design and its ability to create more structured conversation threads).

Without thinking about it too much, I’ve developed an hypothesis about why I love Twitter so much and, related to the first point, why Twitter is such an effective tool for social change.

It’s the intimacy.

On Twitter I got micro-updates directly from the smart-phones of Egyptian activists/citizens in Tahir Square. They may have been sending those tweets out to a twitter follower list of 20,000 people, but when I opened my phone and read them they felt more like text messages than like any form of broadcast.

Twitter feels intimate.

And therein lies much of its appeal, and its power.

That’s my theory anyway.

I want to find out whether this is true, especially in the context of social issues and causes. So I’m doing a little bit of (very haphazard) online research. If you have a few minutes I would be really grateful if you would answer these three questions.

1. Do you know or care more about any cause or social issue because of people you’ve met or things you’ve learned through social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google + etc)?

2. If yes, which cause or social issue?

3. If yes, what was it that helped you care or learn more about the issue? e.g. connecting with someone affected, learning new facts or getting involved in some direct action (like a petition or fundraiser)

That’s it. Unless you’d like to help me spread the word by sharing these questions on Google + (share it with me +Marianne Elliott), or Facebook (if we are Facebook friends then you can copy me in as well) or Twitter (use @zenpeacekeeper and/or #smsc so I can find the answers)




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2 Responses to "The intimacy hypothesis"

  1. Yes, I have connected more with certain causes through social media.

    Usually, it happens one of two ways – I encounter a cause or issue that touches my heart, and I learn that they have a social media presence. I follow them, learn about the progress they are making, and have an opportunity to get involved in an ongoing way. This is less likely to happen if I have to rely on remembering to revisit their website.

    The other way is when someone I respect highlights a cause or issue, and I have an opportunity to explore/participate in something specific, engaging my heart and mind in the process.

    For me, this includes Invisible Children, Falling Whistles, Charity: Water, The Girl Effect, Kiva, and benefits for individuals who have fallen on hard times in whatever way.

    It has helped for me to know of a specific way I can help/be involved. It has helped to have a face on the issue, to understand how people are individually affected. My soul-stirring causes are as varied as education, protecting the Everglades, elder-abuse, college access for at-risk youth, clean water, local farmers, heritage seed protection, literacy, reproductive freedom… and it goes on.

    An issue does not have to affect me personally to stir my soul, because in the end, it is all political, it is all personal.

  2. Swirly says:

    1. I do feel more aware of social issues because of connections I have made online. In fact, it has become a passion of mine to share stories of the kind of work individuals are doing all over the world. I cannot, at this time, travel or live somewhere else to do this kind of work myself, but I can help share these stories ~ and since that is what I can offer, I try to offer it as much as possible.

    2. I can’t say there is one in particular ~ they run the gamut from women’s health issues, disaster relief, etc.

    3. Honestly, my friendship with you has taught me so much. You have been one of my greatest teachers, on many levels.

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