When Albert Hirschman published his landmark treatise Exit, Voice and Loyalty more than 40 years ago, he unwittingly helped to predict what Twitter might do to capitalism.
In Hirschmans framework, consumers had essentially two ways to deal with dissatisfaction. They could take their business elsewhere exit and if enough others fled, a business might shape up. Or they could gripe Hirschman used voice as a verb to management.
The problem with exiting has always been that theres probably a reason you went to Acme Co. in the first place. As for voicing your complaints, well, one unhappy customer isnt the strongest argument for change.
Consumers could launch letter-writing campaigns, muster boycotts or man picket lines. But how much effort are most of us willing to expend over a restaurants wilted salad or a phone companys seemingly unreasonable service fee?
As it turns out, enough to peck out 140 characters on a phone.
Suddenly with outlets like Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and YouTube, Hirschmans single voice becomes a thunderous electronic shout, echoed across the Internet by thousands, perhaps millions of other similarly fuming souls. Maybe overnight.
The Internet magnifies the voice that consumers can have, said Mark Cooper, the research director for the Consumer Federation of America. The impact of voice is becoming more and more important.
In an anemic economy, were less likely to take fee hikes and perceived rip-offs quietly. Were mad as hell, and with social media at our disposal, maybe we dont have to take it anymore.
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