Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is there such as thing as a "muted group" online?

There were muted groups in Germany in 1945.  

There were muted groups in the United States in 1959

There were muted groups in Rwanda in 1994


There is no doubt that muted groups have existed.  There are (always) some groups in a society that have more power than other groups.  Some voices are not heard, or historically have not been heard.

However, it is my belief that online 

(amongst users in the United States)  

there are no muted groups.

Let us start from the beginning, the videos above eloquently and emotionally give clues to what a muted group is, but for clarification a muted group is any collection of persons who are outside the dominant culture for one or a multitude of reasons.  In plain English, in the US, this means that if you are not a young (ish) Caucasian male of middle income who professes Christianity (dominant group) you are probably, in one way or another, what theorists would consider to be a member of a muted group.

Are you oppressed?  Poor?  Do you feel like you aren't heard?  Are you being put on a train car for your religion, or attacked with dogs because of your skin color?

Times have changed, but many argue oppression exists still....  I maintain that if oppression still exists in the US especially online (today) it is a matter of degree.

          *caveat: this article is about muted groups online, I am aware that some groups feel that they are currently oppressed or targeted by the government for the color of their skin or the partner in their bedroom.  This "real life" is not confronted here, only the online aspect of that speech, which i maintain is freely allowed online.

The Internet Revolution:

Do you have access to the internet at home?  What about on your mobile phone?  How about at the public library?  Do you have a Kindle, a tablet, a laptop, or a PC within sight of you right this moment?  Odds are, you probably do -since you are reading this online!

 That looks like this:        Non users have their reasons:            And age groups:

Considering the presented graphics (created with "magic" or rather Excel, using numbers provided by Joanna Stern on 26 SEP 2013 via Good Morning America  -  feel free to click the link to the article above) It is fair to say that a large portion of Americans have the ability to have a voice in the online world.  Of those few who said it was too costly, free internet is available to them in local libraries.  For those who said it was geographically unavailable, it was admitted that this is either temporary or reparable (by choice).  A final admission, 44% of respondents who said they didn't have internet said they had had friends or family look up information for them.

So far the facts of internet usage point toward most Americans (who so desire) have some form of access to the internet, even if only indirectly.  Nearly all have the ability to have their voice heard online, or at least to send their messages out into cyberspace.



The United States government recently attempted to mute the voices on the internet.  The response was immediate and loud.  From SOPA January 18th, 2012 was the largest online protest in history to stop the internet censorship bills, SOPA & PIPA. On January 20th, Congress shelved the bills indefinitely. If they return, we must be ready.  We, the denizens of the internet, wont be muted.

The Story of Aaron Swartz:


  Aaron Swartz, co-founder of the "front page of the internet" hanged himself in January of 2013.  An advocate of online privacy, he encouraged the free flow of knowledge and ideas online.  His desire to continue a free and open internet where there were no muted groups took unconventional turns.  To further clarify this statement, because it is so important:  Swartz committed suicide on January 11, after facing criminal charges for hacking millions of academic papers from JSTOR. Swartz was a staunch believer of internet freedom and access to information.  Anonymous is continuing its spate of revenge attacks to pay tribute.

If there are indeed muted groups online, there are voices - legions of them- fighting for free access, free voices, for no more muted groups online.  Aaron's suicide rocked the online community but also did something his imprisionment could never have accomplished.  He gave his life so that all voices could be heard. He martyred himself for the movement.


Aaron Swartz gave his life so that people like me ---> a working poor, middle aged woman, atheist, mother, non degree holding, former foster child, PERSON could use my voice any way I like online.  His sacrifice for this cause will not be forgotten nor will it be in vain.

This organization (anonymous) exists to keep YOUR voice on the internet.  The internet doesn't know your race (unless you tell it).  The internet doesn't know your gender (unless you post on /r/gonewild).  The internet doesn't know anything about you until you tell it who and what you are.  You have the ability to manage your privacy level on the internet, the only thing muting your voice is your own inaction.   There is no dominant culture on the internet because people have been vigilant about keeping it a free and open society.

All you need to do is GOOGLE.
           All you need to do is participate.
                            All you need to do is share your voice.
                       All you need to do is stand up...  
the internet belongs to us all.  People have paid the ultimate price to bring attention to the openness of this platform.  The only muted group on the internet is the group you aren't interested in visiting.  And in that case we are all muted because not everyone online talks to us, but we are also all dominant because there is somewhere online for everyone.

Conclusions: Muted group theory is appropriate in real world situations when/if a less powerful group is being oppressed by the more dominant group.  Online, due to the openness of it, but also due to the anonymity of the platform the only reason a voice is muted is if it isnt spoken to begin with.  People of all stripes find one another online: quilters, gamers, women, anime fans, pedophiles, suicide bombers, yops, ford lovers, WWII veterans, geologists, punks, cat lovers, everyone.

The internet is open 24/7 and it is waiting for you.

On second thought, let's not post an opinion to Reddit  'tis a silly place

As per is my wont, images found in this post (if not otherwise stated) were ruthlessly pirated on the high seas, okay they were clicked and copied from the information superhighway: 
*    http://bloglawblog.com/blog/?p=3734
*     http://mashable.com/category/aaron-swartz/
*  http://www.publiseek.com/publicity/anonymous-revenge-continues-hacker-group-downs-us-govt-website/
*     http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3rgejc

NSA disclaimer:  This is a course exercise, please don't put me on a no fly lists!

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