If you were to go to any politician’s tweets, you would often find a lot of people expressing opposing views to what the tweets say or even to what the politician generally believes, disregarding what the tweet actually says. This is often the case for President Trump’s personal Twitter account, Nancy Pelosi, and even for many news sites that share political news and generally fake news.
However, the media finds this to mean heavy opposition to something or someone in general. So when writing their news, they say things along the lines of “social media erupted about person x’s position” or “person y received some major fire on social media for this particular action.”
That is often the mistake the media makes, in believing the views expressed on social media are a reflection of the country as a whole. However, that is a mistake for a number of reasons.
Reason number 1, and perhaps most importantly, only 22% of Americans use Twitter. That leaves another 78% of Americans without being able to express their own opinions on something and the media takes what they do see as a general reflection of the country’s views.
Reason number 2, Pew Research Center found that, while 39% of the users that were studied (out of a total of 2,400) tweeted at least one time about national politics, the vast majority of political Twitter, or 97%, came from just 10% of users. Meaning that the number of people who are often engaged in politics on the social media site is exceedingly small.
What’s more, the vast majority of that 10% are heavy critics of Trump, make up 80% of all tweets from US adults (meaning that these anti-Trumpers would tweet far more often than those who do not necessarily actively hate Trump) and generated 72% of the tweets talking about politics. By contrast, those who strongly approve of Trump made up only 11% of tweets from US adults and 25% of tweets about politics.
This tells me a few things. First, the Never Trumpers have no lives. Second, some shadow banning or outright banning is likely in play here. And finally, Trump supporters have better things to do with their lives than to stay engaged 24/7 being offended and triggered by just about everything they see. I know that last point is similar to the first, but it’s worth pointing out.
What’s also rather interesting are the numbers regarding age demographics. Boomers, those aged 65 and older, while they only produced 10% of all US adult tweets, contributed 33% to the political tweets. Those aged 50 and older produced 29% of all tweets, but contributed 73% of political ones. Finally, those aged 18-29 produced 20% of all tweets, but a surprisingly low 4% of all political tweets.
There could be a number of reasons for why these numbers are what they are. For one, millennials might simply not make up too huge of a population on Twitter. Yes, while they are seemingly double the number of boomers (in the study, at least), Twitter is far from the most popular social media site for younger generations. Among 18-24 year olds, 44% said they use Twitter, compared to 73% who say they use Snapchat, 75% who say they use Instagram, 90% who say they use YouTube (though not certain that one counts as social media) and 76% say they use Facebook.
For the most part, it seems that millennials are more interested in taking pictures of things or themselves and sharing them on social media sites that are built specifically for those things, like Snapchat and Instagram. Or, they generally also intend to have social lives and use Facebook to chat and hang out with friends.
But still, it is rather remarkable that out of the 20% of millennials who made up all US tweets (in the study), only 4% were political tweets.
Regardless, it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of political tweets are from a very small number of people. And yet, the media acts as though it’s a reflection of the rest of the country and as though they matter.
For example, The Independent recently had an article about Chris Pratt titled: “Chris Pratt called sexist after mocking wife’s cooking: ‘Proud of my darling for trying to cook tonight.’” An article where Pratt lightly mocked his wife’s cooking for having burnt a bagel to a crisp.
And while this is indeed not about politics, it does reflect what the media often does with Twitter engagement. What do I mean? Well, while the article makes it sound like a lot of people on social media decried Pratt as sexist, only 6 people actually did that or something of that caliber, none of whom have anywhere close to a thousand followers. They were just random accounts with a few hundred followers at best and far from people anyone would really pay attention to.
Had it been a fellow actor or a semi-prominent journalist, that may have been a different story. But 6 people no one knows say the guy is sexist and The Independent writes a whole article about it? Even the tweets that criticized Pratt had no more than THREE LIKES MAX! My average political tweet tends to have a bigger response than that AND I’M EVERY BIT THE SOCIAL MEDIA NOBODY THESE PEOPLE ARE!
So the next time some fake news media site says that “Twitter blew up today when such and such said this”, ignore it because it’s far from an accurate descriptor of how the American people feel. And while I do sometimes talk about the reaction someone got on Twitter, like when Ben Rhodes trashed the NBA for kowtowing to China, it’s to point out a surprising moment when even (some) Leftists would not defend such actions.
But the next time the media tries to convince you that Trump or someone else they hate said or did something they think is dumb and adds that “Twitter blew up” about it, remember that it does not reflect the overall sentiment of Americans.
“No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.”
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