Last night, a friend of mine asked how having a green Twitter icon is actually going to help people in Iran.
He has a point. It's a Twitter icon
. It's not like the people of Iran are waiting for X number of people to change their icons green because each icon-turned-green contains a tiny bit of the code for some supervirus that will - once the icons-turned-green hit a critical mass - crash all the government computers in Iran, thereby allowing the Iranians to reclaim their electronic voices and allow the whole world to know what the hell is going on in their country...how their votes have been stolen, their voices silenced, their lives quashed.* It's nothing special.
Except how it totally is.
Okay, scenario: you're queer, and you're walking down the street. You see a car drive by...nothing special about it, really, just your average car. Maybe it's a Chevy. Or a Honda. Maybe it's red. Whatever, it's an average car. Except this car has a bumper sticker that reads NO ON 8.
That sticker is nothing special...it's a piece of sticky paper with some words printed on it. Except it means that the person in that car believes that you should have the right to marry whomever you so choose.
That sticker is more than the sum of its parts. It's a symbol that someone cares for you even if they've never met you. That someone believes that you deserve to be heard. And that someone believes that you should be able to live your life according to the rules and laws that everyone else can live by.
It means that this person probably isn't going to turn around and call you derogatory names, or try to harm you for being who you are.
It means that someone knows that what is happening to you is wrong
That sticker is a rally point. Upon seeing it, like-minded individuals will be encouraged, knowing that there are other people with their beliefs out there. People who don't know what it means might ask, and be educated, and in turn spread the message themselves. It means that those who oppose its message will realise that there are people out there who will not stand for their small-mindedness, their bigotry, their blind hatred...it might make some of those people rethink their position on the matter.
So how does that apply to the green icons thing? Like this: I saw yesterday morning on Twitter that my friend Dili had a green icon, and had RTd how to get one. I clicked the link, got my own green icon, and passed on the method myself. By the end of the day, 11 other people on my Twitter feed had green icons.^ It was the Twitter version of the process from the above paragraph...people who believed were passing it on, people who had no idea what was going on found out about it and then clicked the link if they agreed, showing their support.
And how does that go back to the people in Iran? Well, they're on Twitter. They're being really sneaky about it so they don't get caught and possibly killed, but they're getting online and they're using Twitter to communicate. They're watching the #IranElection
hashtag, and other hashtags specifically used to pass on information about rallies and protests and what the government and police are up to. And what do they see? Green, green, green. Green icons everywhere. People from all over the world with green icons on their Twitter pages. The people in Iran know that their voices are being heard, that people out there know what's going on and care about what's happening to them. They know that they are not alone in this fight.
Because I'm sure we all know the answer to this one: How devastating is it to feel alone? It is heart-breaking. It is mind-destroying. It freezes you in you tracks, makes you feel like you can't go on. But knowing that someone out there knows what's happening, and is with you in spirit? It makes all the difference.
So. That's the importance of the green icon, in my humble opinion. Agree, disagree: the choice is yours. But that's the reasoning process I utilised when I decided to change mine.
. If you decide that the icons-turned-green thing is still bullshit, and you want to do something more, check out that link...it's a how-to for setting up a proxy server so that the people in Iran can get onto the 'net and utilise Twitter and blogs and news sites.
Also also: it should be pointed out that the color green isn't just a symbol for freedom in Iran; it's also a show of support for Mousavi (the presidential candidate who was apparently winning the election before Ahmadinejad committed the little piece of electoral fraud that started this whole mess`). If you check Mosavi out and find him lacking, but you still want to show your support through your icon, try and find an icon that represents freedom for the people of Iran and not support for him...I'm sure there are some out there. * If that is what the icons-turned-green thing is for, a) that would be supercool, and b) sorry, people of Iran, for guessing your masterplan...I highly doubt the government will be looking at this post, though. :D? ^ The only one I attribute to myself is my mum(!). Everyone else was probably a mix of other people. The point is, it got out there, and is being passed on to others.` Talk about a sore loser...