Is Twitter Reality?
Out of millions of online RSVPs, only about 100 people showed up for the “Storm Area 51” event. What does this mean for the 2020 election?
How close is the world of Twitter to the everyday world of reality we live in?
Are the people who chime in on our latest rant or rave online really the same people we work with, pass at the grocery store, sit behind at the movies?
This is question that has come to have tremendous implications in Trump’s America. It is an America in which Twitter is now somehow considered a key battleground state.
At least by the left.
Hard-line progressives and far-left liberals in particular have come to rely on the power of the Twitter-verse and its ability to amplify particular voices, especially if those voices grew up on a diet of snarky sit-com one-liners.
They learned the power of the sick Twitter burn early.
Some people seem born to it. Or their social media teams were, anyway. Consider Hilary Clinton’s brutal takedown of Donald Trump in 2016: “Delete your account.”
Not that it helped.
Some enjoy it almost too much, see the many expert trollings of Donald J. Trump and President Donald J. Trump.
But Twitter isn’t exactly real life. In fact, only 7% of Americans bother with the social media platform at all.
So how real is Twitter?
The “Storm Area 51 Event” yesterday, to which millions of people RSVP’d via Twitter, brought only about 100 people, one of whom was arrested for public urination.
Talk about going out with a pffft.
The event, which drew much attention online, from media outlets and even military and law enforcement officials pressed to make statements by unserious journalists.
The organizers of this event, who I’m sure have been visited by the FBI and/or local equivalent, may have been right about the authorities not being about to stop millions of people from storming infamous Area 51. We’ll never know.
“They” might not be able to stop us all, but they certainly can stop 99 people and one public urinator.
What does this tell us about what Democrats might reasonably expect from a “Twitter boost”? Nothing good.
During the 2018 mid-term election cycle, some veteran Democrats were caught sleeping by primary challengers able to harness the power of a large Twitter following and channel it into votes at the polls.
Was that a trick that only works once? One that only works until your opponents figure out how to counter it?
Colin Kaepernick, for instance, is a first-rate champion for his cause and a good spokesperson for Nike, but as a football player, he wasn’t great.
During his on-field football career, he was a one-trick pony. The first season he debuted his new style, his team was successful. But once the other teams saw him play a few times, and examined recordings of his games, they changed strategy to counter the new moves.
After that, the only time Kaepernick distinguished himself on the football field was by failing to stand for the National Anthem.
Democrats too risk obsolesce by relying too heavily on their ability to generate a buzz on Twitter. People will say things on Twitter they would never say or do in real life. Like sign up with millions of other idiots to storm a U.S. military base, or vote with thousands of other idiots to name a scientifically advanced research vessel Boaty McBoatface.
Or vote online to send Taylor Swift to do a free concert at a high school for the deaf.
Would anyone do that in real life? Of course not. Too much work for something that doesn’t really matter much to people. Going door to door to get signatures on a petition to send Taylor Swift to a high school for the deaf in order to deliver a sick burn would be stupid.
Most people wouldn’t bother online, either. A few people might think the Storm Area 51 event or the Taylor Swift voting contest was funny enough to constitute a use of precious time. The rest of us likely have better things to do.
Which brings us back to celebrity politicians thinking that a robust Twitter following is going to keep churning out their bread and butter.
Two things are being lost on Twitter’s new political royalty:
- Not everyone who agrees with you on Twitter lives in your district and is able or willing to vote for you.
- Getting elected is only part of the battle.
To politicians depending too heavily on Twitter followings, the benefits of having such a golden goose is that it is a cash-cow of campaign contributions.
While it may be true that a large online following might help raise the campaign funds required to get someone elected to office, getting into office just means you got the job.
Far from helping with the legislative process, the power of social media and a large Twitter following seems to be a perilous pitfall for the newly elected. The temptation is simply too great to vent about the frustrations, obfuscation, and policy in-fighting typical to any act of Congress.
But badmouthing your colleagues to millions of Twitter followers is not a sign of working well with others. And working well with others is certainly in the job description for anyone who wants to work in Congress.
Everything is a group project Congress. Everything.
Just what does someone with a huge Twitter following, but few friends in Congress, intend to accomplish in office for the voters of their district?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)