Thursday, February 3, 2011

Queen Rania's Twitter Problem

The news is dominated by Egypt, so much so that hardly anyone is talking about Tunisia, which just revolted two weeks ago. There is so much that has already been said and written, and so much that will be debated, analyzed, and put forth in the future, and so much still developing, that I would know where to begin . Furthermore, this isn't a foreign affairs blog, and I'm not an expert in international relations or Egypt, which are not really the topics of this blog.

However, I am something of an expert on Twitter, and this is being called the Twitter Revolution(s), even social media only helped lubricate any already-overboiling engine of discontent. But the ways in which Twitter is changing and even democratizing our globe and global communication is on display in interesting ways these last few weeks. It was interesting to see veteran New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicolas Kristof being mocked for his tweets about Egypt on Monday:

A more startling example of the Twitter Revolution: Queen Rania of Jordan, with her 1.43 million followers. She is a monarch. Her husband King Abdullah was not elected and is the head of state over a country where police brutality, unjustified detention and torture are shockingly common. But she is also a global philanthropy celebrity, despite the problems of her home realm, where between 14% and 30% of Jordanians live in poverty. Look at her Twitter profile, "mum and wife with really cool day job." Oh, its also so light and fun, isn't it?

But, in the middle of January, the Queen sent out a compassionate, au courant tweet about Tunisia:

Suddenly, the twin poles holding up Queen Rania's tent are being ruthlessly collapsed on Twitter. People are being openly rude to her majesty, the Queen.

This is a different situation than international development bloggers wittily sniping at Nick Kristof's tweets, or the lightning-strike outrage at Kenneth Cole's thoughtless, crass self-promotional controversy, in which its plausible to imagine the ploy was calculated in an any-publicity-is-good-publicity maneuver.

Queen Rania's case is different. She is the target of all this activity, completely unable to recast, engage, or co-opt these events. She isn't the champion of the poor, she is the symbol of their angst. That "really cool day job"? Would that be living a life of luxury while around a third of your subjects live in inescapable misery? The next few days and week will continue to amaze the world as the people of the Middle East take control of their destiny. Queen Rania has been mostly silent on Twitter since the 15th, whereas her husband has sacked his cabinet. Let's see if that's enough to satisfy her tweeps, or even an older following: the people.

No comments:

Tweets by @moved2monrovia