“Davidson takes some of the largest, knottiest issues in contemporary culture—politics, social media, and social activism—teases them apart expertly, and ties them gracefully back together. The community of activists Davidson studies is fascinating both in its ordinariness and its distinctiveness, and her impulse to read their connection as inherently, intimately—but also cruelly—optimistic is powerful. The deftness of Davidson’s analysis and the dexterity of her writing humanize the Blue Wave Resisters without succumbing to either uncritical praise on the one hand or contemptuous blame on the other.”—Ryan Skinnell, San José State University
In this book, Cynthia A. Davidson argues that tweeting, especially political tweeting among Democratic women, is an inherently optimistic act. Davidson’s analysis draws on Lauren Berlant’s assertion in Cruel Optimism (2011) that what we most desire is also an impediment to our thriving, whether or not the subject of specific conversations is negative. Narratives created by members of the Democratic BlueWave Resistance either support the primary purpose of the group—to uphold support of liberal democratic conventions and the issues, policies, and personalities related to them—or take place more or less comfortably within the zone of the community that supports these things. Using specific examples, empirical data, and analysis framed by Berlant’s theories as well as primary and secondary sources from current journalism and scholarship, Davidson explores Twitter as a problematic object of desire and attachment, examines the rhetorical underpinnings of its discourse, and shows how women of this group use storytelling via Twitter as a way to make connections, be heard, and stay afloat in a status quo that perpetuates un-ease and precarious existence. Scholars of media studies, gender studies, and political science will find this book of particular interest.