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Critique Of Dennis Baron On: Reforming Egypt In 140 Character - With A Free Essay Review.

All I have to do is to log on my twitter account and type # (discover) plus any rumor I have heard, and twitter gives me uncountable tweets from people about the rumor I have heard, including pictures and videos. Sometimes I don’t need to go through all that hustle, I might be lucky to see the rumor trending I don’t need to wait on the “gong gong beater” (the messenger) to tell me what is the latest news, actually that was three centuries ago when my country was an outcast. It is now so easy to communicate on the internet or to blow news up on the web that my friend will prefer to post on my Facebook wall “I am in front of your house” rather than knock on the door. It is sad to hear people think America is the only country where everything is happening. My grandfather used to tell me “travel and see”.

“Dennis Baron, a linguistic and an English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign”. In one of his recent essays “Reforming Egypt in 140 characters”, Baron argues that the social media had little to do with the revolution in Tunisia and Egypt and barely helped the election protestors in Iran. He revealed the twitter users of these countries are a small group and can barely notice when the internet is out of service. Baron agrees that “It’s true that the internet connects people, and it’s become an unbeatable source of information—the Egyptian revolution was up on Wikipedia faster than you could say Wolf Blitzer” (p.330&331) but he pointed out that any invention can be positive and negative. Baron therefore believes the social media contributed to the revolutions but quickly emphasized that, social media is easily manipulated. He gave an example that the government can block websites, place firewall on websites and filtering news that is sent form the country over the web will make it hard for social media to make a huge impact on the revolutions that took place. With someone like Baron with huge background in technological communication, I should be surprised to hear something like that form him. I am from Ghana, West Africa where the other parts of the world think we live on trees. In fact when the Japanese president last visited my country Ghana, he was surprised we had electricity. Most people from the western world, not Baron alone, think Ghana (Africa) is a dungeon. I bet to differ. May be they need a whole year tour there. We live just like anyone overseas do.

I keep up with all the current political, sports and social news in my country all on the internet. Websites like where updates and news from Ghana almost every minute, if I can read uncountable news from my country here in the United States, I don’t think it’s not available everywhere. There are almost uncountable pages of Ghana on Facebook, sharing almost every minute the current status of my country. I have almost 5000 Facebook friends, about 89% are from Ghana and 10% from the rest of Africa, actually I have few friends outside Africa, and this makes my timeline change every second with pictures, news videos from my friends (from Africa of course). Can’t we notice if our internet service is down? Or maybe we won’t because it never did. What’s amazing about Ghana and our love for the internet is that, no one is left out it is used by all ages; my mum have a Facebook account, my dad too and they use it at least every day. My mum inbox me on Facebook almost every day to tell me how she misses me, actually my little nephew of 6 years asked me to help him open one just recently. Responding to the number of twitter users excluding the United States as Baron thinks “there were few Twitter users actually in-country” (p.330), according to a recent report by Canadian research company Sysomos, “South Africa has become the tenth largest twitter user in the world”. Will twitter users not realize something is missing if the whole of South Africa’s internet is down? And that tenth largest population on twitter is not tweeting?

My country, Ghana is number 74 on the top 100 Facebook subscribers by country accounting for “1243800 subscribers and grew by more than 97140 subscribers in the last 6 months”- According to Of course we have poverty and disease problems but do we forget about social activities and the need to communicate? And with this number can’t we organize any event; protest, demonstration and even invite the world to join us? Without all these numbers on the social media I doubt if we can do it. Same way I think Egypt or Tunisia couldn’t have done it had it not being the huge internet and their participation on various social Medias. Can we solve our problems if we fail to establish good communication? That is the reason why Ghana think Facebook and twitter is one of the easiest way to communicate and it is evident by the growing number of people on the network. I don’t believe we won’t notice if Facebook decide to close down or our internet shuts down. Baron argues that “Americans can’t seem to survive without the constant stimulus of digital multitasking” (p.330). I had a call from my friend back home in Ghana, and he pointed out that he could barely think straight because his smartphone on which he has his Twitter, Facebook and MySpace got lost yesterday. It is not only Americans that can’t survive without internet, the world is now a global village where people live like we are all in one room, people can share photos with their friends in less than seconds. Communication is the easiest task on earth with the invention of the internet. I believe after the government shut down the internet in Egypt; an Ethernet was created by someone somewhere in the country to still call people to Tahir square. And with social media these days you don’t need 5 hours to communicate, after my smartphone synchronize my Facebook updates I can look it up anytime without internet. Baron again notices that we are better off finding solutions to our “source of electricity that works for more than an hour every day or two” (p.330). Does he know about charging phones? And do I have to charge my phone every hour? With an IPhone which is off course everywhere in my country I rarely need it charged, I can use it for two days without charging it, so unstable electricity is least of our problems, it can’t stop us from communicating with the rest of the world.

Barron again reveals how we would opt to solve our “literacy rates, fighting famine and disease, and finding clean water” (p.330). I’m glad I’m in America and I know Americans have problems too, actually every country does, but should we be stagnant and solve problems and forget there is a world we live in? And as I said earlier can we solve these problems without good communication. It is the best way to solve problems, and we will be living in fool’s paradise if we think we can do it without the help of other countries. Every country is dependent one way or the other and therefore improving our communication systems is a step to solve these problems we have. I don’t think we will ignore it, if our internet service is down, I will like to stress that, it will be a top national priority. There is a proverb in my country that says “you get cure to your disease or sickness if you sell it”. Can we sell without communicating with the outside world? We are lucky the internet is here and makes it easier, faster and cheaper to communicate and Ghana is happy to be utilizing this great invention. Barron should revisit his facts and clarify that in this century we live in the internet makes the world a Global village therefore what happens in any part of it becomes a problem for the whole world, since it can be communicated faster and easier.


Graff, Gerald “They say/I say”; the moves that matter in academic writing; with reading / Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst. – 2nd Ed. Reforming Egypt in 140 Characters by Dennis Baron (pp. 329-334)

Ghana Facebook and statistics retrieved June 23, 2012 from

South Africa Twitter Statistics retrieved June 23, 2012 from

Biography of Dennis Baron retrieved June 23, 2012 from



You seem to want not only to take issue with Baron's account of the role of the social media in the uprising in Egypt, but also to take Baron as representative of the ignorance of the west with respect to other countries in africa, especially your own country, Ghana. It's not clear to me, however, what if anything Baron has said about Ghana, and the claims you make about the assumptions folk in the west make about Ghana are not supported in your essay by any citations or research. You do accuse Baron (and others) of thinking Ghana "is a dungeon," but in your essay you do not appear to cite Baron talking about Ghana, and you don't document the source of your characterization of Baron's characterization of Ghana.

I also don't really understand the relevance of the reference in your essay to South Africa, in part because you don't provide any context for the Baron quotation that precedes that reference. If Baron is there referring to South Africa, or if he is referring to all of Africa (but then why would he say "in-country"?), then perhaps you can deduce that he has a misinformed view of (and perhaps you can claim that he represents a misinformed view of) the extent to which social media have penetrated the South African or the African market. Otherwise, you will need some other evidence of the misinformed views with which you take issues.

If Baron's essay only concerns Egypt, however, then you either need to focus your critique of Baron on what you think are his misrepresentations of the situation in Egypt, or you need explicitly to justify the implicit claim that Baron's representation of Egypt is typical of misrepresentations of African countries generally by the west. The first option is more likely to be successful.

Generally the focus of your essay is unclear from the beginning and the somewhat desultory character of the essay's presentation of facts, opinions, and claims exacerbates the problem. If your focus is intended to be on misinterpretations or misrepresentations of Africa as a whole, then I would recommend clarifying that point in your introduction. A clearly articulated thesis statement in the introduction and a more methodical approach to the organization of the essay’s material would go some way towards solving the problem of the essay's apparent lack of focus.

Here are a few additional concrete and fairly straightforward steps you can take in revising your essay:

1. Proofread (This is the most important, so I put it first, but obviously you do it last).

2. Organize your essay into distinct topics and deal with only one topic in each paragraph.

3. Provide enough context for each quotation so that your reader has a good idea of what the quoted writer is talking about exactly, and why he or she believes what is claimed is true.

4. Delete all (or nearly all) rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions introduce stylistic variation to your writing, but they are poor vehicles for communicating your argument. Using rhetorical questions can appear as a way of avoiding the work of constructing logically complete, coherent arguments.

5. Consider reducing the significance given to the example of your own experiences. Your experiences are interesting, but they constitute a poor example (that is to say, your personal anecdotes don't constitute statistically relevant evidence).

6. Make sure you provide an appropriate logical framework for the essay so that your reader understands why you are talking about Egypt, Ghana, and South Africa in the same essay.

Best, EJ
Submitted by: sungtaao

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