(Reuters) — As bombs explode in Gaza, Palestinian teenager Farah Baker grabs her smartphone or laptop before ducking for cover to tap out tweets that capture the drama of the tumult and fear around her.
The 16-year-old’s prolific posts on Twitter have made her a social media sensation through the month-old conflict. Once a little known high school athlete, Baker’s following on the Web site has jumped from a mere 800 to a whopping 166,000.
Living near Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, where her father is a surgeon, provides Baker with a live feed of blaring ambulance sirens in addition to blasts from Israeli air strikes and shelling attacks.
Baker often records these and posts video clips to provide followers with a quick personal glimpse of the war.
A tweet from Aug. 1 included a link to a video of a darkened street punctuated by the sounds of repeated explosions. In another tweet Baker tells of hiding from the shelling in one of the rooms of her home.
“I am trying to tell the world about what I feel and what is happening where I live,” Baker told Reuters at her Gaza home, adding that she has been “trying to make other people feel as if they are experiencing it, too”.
Baker, whose Twitter profile photo shows a blue-eyed frightened looking young woman calling herself “Guess what”, or @Farah_Gazan, said she’s surprised at the popularity she has garnered.
“I did not expect it. I was writing for a small circle of people, and the number has become too many,” she said.
Baker dreams of becoming a lawyer, hoping to use that profession as a means to advocate for crowded and impoverished Gaza, a coastal territory wedged between Israel and Egypt.
It isn’t always easy to overcome her fears to tweet, but she feels compelled to go on.
“I see this is the only way I can help Gaza, showing what is happening here. Sometimes I tweet while am crying or too scared but I tell myself, I should not stop,” Baker said.
Hillary Clinton’s Twitter debut has already inspired more exegesis than an Ivy League graduate seminar on Joyce’s Ulysses.
It wasn’t really her first Tweet that got everybody so excited, but her bio, which reads, “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”
Christian Science Monitor was one of the early interpreters, declaring the “TBD” as a possible hint that she was going to run for president. Newspapers across the country ran stories with similar conclusions the next day.
Others said her presence on Twitter is an attempt to connect with a younger generation of voters. Ben Smith at BuzzFeed claimed that the her Twitter presences reveals her deep neurosis about appearing old. Then the New Republic’s Noreen Malone questioned how a few words could cause Smith to draw such a conclusion.
Mary Elizabeth Williams over at Salon gushed about Clinton’s debut, saying “Would that everything on the Internet were even a quarter as self-aware, witty and badass. It was classic Hillary — funny but entirely willing to remind you that she means business. “ There is a great round-up of all the responses over at the Columbia Journalism Review.
Happy 7th birthday, Twitter!
If the social media network were a student in a Yeshiva day school, right about now would be the moment its mother brought in a tray of donuts for the rest of its social media classmates to share.
And so, in honor of Twitter’s 7th birthday (only 5 years till its Bat Mitzvah!), here is a list of seven Jewish women you should be following on Twitter. Of course, the list could go on and on, but these women will bring a full array of different topics into your Twitter feed and keep you informed on current events, Jewish themes and women’s issues.
With the advent of the conflict in Gaza, known by the hashtags #gazaunderattack or #pillarofdefense, it’s a surreal moment to be a citizen of this earth.
For perhaps the first time on this scale, a war is being waged both in real life and on Twitter simultaneously.
As rockets and bombs fall, as children lie wounded or dead, and as people rush into bomb shelters, the IDF Spokesman account and the military wing of Hamas have been duking it out on the interwebs, even garnering the IDF a suspension from Twitter for issuing “threats of violence.”
Buzzfeed writes that the IDF is winning the Twitter war, but in my mind, the callousness of these tweets and actions on both sides precludes any winners.
The high-profile internet blowup du jour began with an ill-considered tweet from new T Magazine editor Deborah Needleman, advertising an appearance by known professional thorn-in-the-side of feminists Katie Roiphe.
“Sorry Feminists,” Needleman tweeted in parentheticals, “this woman is sexy”. The implication of her statement being that feminists can’t abide a sexy woman, or a sexy woman who disagrees with them, because feminists apparently hate sexiness.
New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum fired back with a concise dressing-down: “Did you wrote that tweet from 1963? Impressive.”
@debbieneedles Did you wrote that tweet from 1963? Impressive.emilynussbaum (@emilynussbaum) October 8, 2012
“Big Hats and bigger opinions, she knew ‘This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives,’” Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder tweeted on May 2, the launch day for Jewish Women’s Archive’s “#jwapedia: Tweeting the Encyclopedia” project. By doing so, she sent a link to the article about Bella Abzug in the online “Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia” hurtling out into cyberspace to be clicked on, opened and read by her many Twitter followers.
The rabbi (and occasional Sisterhood contributor), together with 25 other prolific tweeters in the Jewish community, will be tweeting a significant portion of the encyclopedia’s 1,700 biographies, 300 thematic essays, and 1,400 photographs as an experiment throughout May in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month.
Although they were asked to commit to tweeting just one article a week, many of the partners have immediately embraced the project and have been tweeting multiple articles a day. Three days into the effort, 58 articles had already been tweeted — and retweeted many times over.