The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Women of Twitter: Entrepreneurs or Cheerleaders?

A Vanity Fair article entitled "America's Tweethearts" caused a bit of an uproar in the social media sphere last week, with various bloggers calling it "condescending" and "embarrassing." Even Felicia Day, a popular actress who is featured in the article, wrote in her own blog that she was disappointed with the article:
"But what really ENRAGED me was the general tone, which artfully made intelligent, articulate women sound vapid and superficial."
The article profiles six young women who use social media, like Twitter, to expand their influence, but instead of focusing on their individual achievements, the article reads as clearly dismissive of Twitter, its users, and even the women featured in the article.

It likens them to cheerleaders:
"It so happens that they are nice girls—the Internet’s equivalent of a telephone chat line staffed by a bunch of cheerleaders..."
Others on blogs such as Geek Week, CNET and Geek Girl Diva also expressed their dismay with the article.

The VF article makes no mention of how these women use their social media savvy to promote themselves or the people and causes they believe in; instead it focuses on Twitter as an enormous and hollow popularity contest.

The prevailing criticism is that Vanity Fair missed an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of these women, who collectively have more than five million followers. That is a huge number of people who are interested in what these women have to tweet about.

Day's quote is what the story should have focused on:
"Doors were closed to us before,” says Day. “Now the tools for success have been democratized. It’s just me and whoever wants to talk to me, wherever they are in the world.”
For a better article about women and Twitter, read Forbes' "14 Power Women To Follow On Twitter." Unlike the Vanity Fair story, this actually focuses on women and their social media exploits, detailing exactly why these women are worthy of their many followers.
"These 'twilebrities' are constructing digital empires by building brands from the ground up. They are not only experts, but also extraordinarily engaging, hard working, interactive and responsive to their communities. And they are deserving of your follow."
Of course, any list is not necessarily exhaustive or objective, but Forbes is respectful of every woman on their list.

Twitter does make it easier to reach out to real experts, and Twitter makes the real-time Internet into a more personable experience.

Check out us out on Twitter at @womensfunding to learn more about women's issues.

How do you use Twitter to connect to issues you care about?

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that though social media is supposed to be an equalized environment, it takes a print magazine to tip the scales back.