The truth is that vulnerable people — marginalized people — experience a blistering degree of abuse on the internet, from micro-aggressions to violent threats, and it’s not because our abusers are fans. It’s because they hate us. The truth is that the collapse of boundaries, geographic and social, that social media has facilitated and encouraged has made vulnerable people even more vulnerable, the powerful more accessible, and has gifted us with powerful communicative tools that can be used for any purpose — sort of. If you ignore censorship, rape culture and all the unpleasant social realities that map from meatspace to digital. The truth is that although the internet and social media may feel like a neutral zone where power is collapsed and equalized, it isn’t. Social media does not eliminate systemic, institutionalized power imbalances — it reflects them and all too often reifies them.
Social media is democratizing in that it amplifies the possibilities of disruptive speech. But it does not give material power to those who previously had none and it does not, by function, dissolve traditional power structures. Social media amplifies, it does not imbue.
Megan Purdy on speaking power.