I’ve just had a few weeks away from my desk and laptop and daily routine of tracking what people are talking about online only to return this week and wonder, did anybody even know I was gone?
In an era of breaking us down into percentages – 99%, 47%, 8% (that last figure is the percentage of adults who use Twitter on a daily basis) – and obsessively counting followers, connections, “friends”, page views and hits it’s easy to get caught up in “your” numbers and start wondering what – if anything – do they mean? And even, if they matter. This week, a new Pew Internet and American Life Project study revealed that, according to the statistics, if you think you’re changing hearts and minds about the upcoming presidential election on Twitter, you’re wasting your time.
Or, as Samuel L. Jackson said in a YouTube video making the rounds (that you may, or may not have seen), “Wake the f$%^& up!”
People are less engaged in the 2012 election than they were four or eight years ago not because of the “dumbing” of America, but because of the “numbing” of America. And, the number one shot of daily brain Novocaine comes not from Twitter – where users tend to share links to stories (political or otherwise) that might make you think and engage with strangers (like-minded or otherwise), but from Facebook, which has way more users (66% of adults) and might be described as “way more fun”.
The presidential election should be about more than “likes” and “shares” on Facebook – but if all you see all day are pictures of Barack Obama looking like the coolest dude on the planet in a pair of shades with that gorgeous First Lady on his arm while Mitt Romney’s face takes on a stranger and more bizarre orange hue, can you really be blamed for feeling a little numb? While some mainstream media outlets are trying to keep the election interesting, talking voter fraud, swing states and holes in polls, journalists hang out on Facebook, too. And their take away seems to be the same as the rest of us. Even ace reporting isn’t going to generate the type of interest bloggers created in 2004 and social media, primarily Facebook, gave us in 2008.
Which brings me back to Twitter, where I seriously turned to back in August when I made a vow not to make any more political postings on Facebook to avoid discussing politics with family and close friends. I wrote about this and even made a grand announcement on Facebook telling everyone there to come and follow me on Twitter if they wanted to know more about my political leanings. No one did.
But that’s okay. Even Twitter isn’t putting that much stock into how many followers you might have. They’re considering a new metric that will measure your influence and rank you by how many hearts and minds you appear to be affecting. The new metric will be based on how many people see your tweet. But the real metric we need is how many people cared?
What else are people talking about online this week? Visit What People Are Talking About Online This Week to find out and join the conversation.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock, via The Raw Story, whose story about social networks and politics inspired this post.