Monday, April 8, 2013

Roger Ebert a film critic lost his voice in a fight with cancer. In response to this vital dilemma for an individual that uses his voice so much for his career, Ebert turned to Twitter. Ebert could have found a voice in other forms of print media but instead he turned to the use of social media and found a voice and an audience there.

In his own words Ebert said, “It breaks through the silence that I have been condemned to. It gives me a voice.”

Ebert was a member of an older generation. A generation not known for its use of the new technology of social media which is generally stereo typed to the “Younger Generation”. So why did Ebert choose to turn to Twitter instead of newspaper print to share his thoughts, feelings, and opinions? Perhaps it is the nature of its instantaneousness that makes it attractive to so many and makes it seem like it really does give people a voice.

Another factor that cannot be undervalued for anyone who really wants to get his or her opinion heard is the ability to get a response. There really is no comparison to the response a person can get on Twitter to the response somebody in Ebert’s position can get at a newspaper. And if you have an opinion wouldn't it be great to have an opportunity to convince the dissenters that you are right and you can only do that if you can "speak" with them.

Of course the big disadvantage for somebody in Ebert’s position is that Twitter is a free platform where as a newspaper is a for profit business enterprise. Although some current newspapers may beg to differ in recent years as the internet has taken hold. There is no pay involved (generally) with voicing yourself on Twitter.

So what do you think…..does Twitter give a voice to the voiceless? I suppose it is a question of what you have to say. It may be that it depends on the impact and the range of your subject matter rather than the volume of what you are saying.


  1. An interesting piece, Kendall. I attended professor Mergel's lecture today where she taught Russian government officials how to use social media to establish their voice to reach out to wider audiences of citizens, so indeed social media in general and twitter in particular does give everyone an opportunity to have a voice (not only to voiceless).

    I think that the cost-benefit point for using twitter is right on. But also the convenience of using twitter is that you don't have to through editing and waiting business as you do with traditional media. Plus, traditional media usually are not interested in your feelings or thoughts unless you are very famous, and even then, will they publish your thoughts every day as you can on twitter?

    And, finally, I feel that the generational stereotype is a bit outdated. People should not assume that older people do not take advantage of twitter and other social media tools - some of the heaviest twitter users I know are people in their 40s and 50s. So it increasingly becoming relevant for reaching out to all age groups so governments should specifically analyze which social media are more popular with what ages. I am sure there are data out there for such analysis.

  2. Did you leave your post untitled on purpose? as analogy to voiceless: title-less? :)

  3. Actually I did on this one but usually it is just an act of laziness. lol

  4. Actually I did on this one but usually it is just an act of laziness. lol