It has been trumpeted as the "revolutionary" media that gave rise to the Arab Spring, the Iranian Uprising and the London Riots. In reality, says Simon Kuper, Twitter is a conversative force: like the computer itself, it's an "anti-revolutionary" device that keeps the world "quiet and peaceful". THat's not just because the tweets get global attention usually involve celebrity deaths, football or teenage heart throb Justin Beiber; It's because if you're at home watching a screen "you're probably not making a revolution". Right now a fifth of under-25-year-olds in the West don't have a job - a potentially combustible situation. Yet little is heard from them: online networking is the "perfect narcotic". Even those who do protest can't do without: Occupy Wall Street demostrators in New York's Zuccotti Park insisted on free wi-fi. It's the same in China: Its 300 million micro-bloggers "are arguably the greatest anti-revolutionary force on Earth". And why the recent fall in voilent crime? As some social scientists see it, potential criminals "are too addicted to their screens" to bother breaking the law.
Published in the week & the Finacial Times (Simon Kuper)