The Green Overlay

Have you noticed the green faces ( over 90,000!) on Twitter?  The green is in response to the following tweet: 

Show support for democracy in Iran add green overlay to your Twitter avatar with 1-click – “

This show of support requires 1-2 mouse clicks.  No  additional action is required, or even expected  — no petition to sign, no plea to any government, no endorsement of a specific action or figure.  This advocacy is not only passive, it’s ambiguous.  Some tweets have have remarked on the potential for confusion:

Erick1970 “Reading through about 7 hrs of tweets – what’s with the green avatars that are popping up?”  

bliccy    “Oh. I thought the green overlay had something to do with you smug bastards and your iPhones.  

Aurress20 “if I green overlay my avatar does that mean I want a smaller carbon footprint or I support Iran?”


The average bumper sticker is more articulate than the green overlay.  The bumper sticker explains itself, whereas the overlay can keep people guessing.  Futhermore, the bumber sticker requires the user to leave his chair and apply the sticker to his car. In contrast, the green overlay movement may be the first movement that requires no movement!

The faulty presumption behind the green overlay is that ‘showing’ support is tantamount to actually ‘giving’ support. Unfortunately, the tyrranic few who oppose freedom will not be dissuaded by the green overlayFor those who want to give real support, get some great ideas from Natalie DeBruin’s blog

Green was the chosen color of a specific candidate’s campaign for election. Guy Wallace provides a chilling explanation of why he has decided to show his true colors rather than adopting the green…hint, he “won’t get fooled again.”     

Clicking a mouse twice tells the world nothing, but taking steps to remove the green says much more.  The green overlay does not expire; it remains in place until the user decides to remove it.  Presumably, the overlays will remain in place until the users decide that the advocacy has achieved it’s goal.  What milestone will evidence that Freedom has been achieved and the overlay can be removed?

Will people remove the overlays once they’ve observed free elections…. or will the overlays fade aways as people grow bored with their avatars? What happens when someone wants to show off a new hair color, or wants to update a professional image?  Will the easy advocacy (e-advocacy?) of green overlays end when the Iran changes, or when fashions do?

Kermit the Frog sang about being green over 30 years ago.  An excerpt from the second verse provides the perfect description of the green overlayers:

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re
Not standing out…

Kermit was wrong about one thing.  …It is, indeed, easy being green. 


UPDATE:  I appreciate her honesty and her sense of humor!  :

KoreenOlbrishWhiteKoreenOlbrish  Ok, I”m still supporting democratic election in Iran, but I can’t stand looking at my green avatar in Twitter anymore. 

(She’s worth following, by the way!)


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One Response to “The Green Overlay”

  1. Richard Says:

    What bothered me most about this movement is how it gave real data to the tyrants in control of Iran, to wit: the West is undermining our state and interfering with our system of government. I wonder if it would have been better to have minded our own business. It was readily apparent that the “opposition” candidates there were doing a fine job of whipping up enthusiasm. Tyrants do not give up power. So western involvement, even individual green icons, (the movement with no movement) only gave an easy excuse to the eventual repression.

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