please forgive us if we have caused you any inconvenience / by Dan Weingrod

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The title is the last part of a tweet sent by Zheng Jinyan, wife of Hu Jia a prominent Chinese social activist and dissident who was released from prison on Sunday. Here’s the entire tweet, according to the New York Times article where I saw it:

"A sleepless night, peace. happiness. he needs to rest for a while. thank you to everyone please forgive us if we have caused you any inconvenience." 

I can’t help by being struck by the poignancy of the final few words. What inconvenience could have been caused? Was it the inconvenience of a late night tweet, of keeping reporters waiting for news, of being activists using social media in a repressive regime or simply an apology to their minders for daring to send out a public message?

I know far to little about this subject to guess at this choice of words, but I’m reminded about how little we understand about the power of social media tools and their roles in different societies. In our world its more likely that Anthony Weiner’s tweets can cause an inconvenience.  In Zheng Jinyan’s world the inconvenience is on an entirely different scale.