Twitter: The voice of a very small mob

Twitter may not be the greatest threat to American democracy, but it’s on the list as a fountain of falsehoods and a source of planned propaganda.

It is all-too-often a garbage generator, a sewer of moral supremacy that can clearcut a forest of opposing opinion that the Left and the young Twitterverse does not like. If Twitter had a face, it would be a Puritan, or perhaps an Inquisition judge, sniffing the air like a rat in pursuit of the cheese of impure thought.

You are getting the idea I don’t like Twitter?

But, Stu, you use it yourself.

True, but I use it as a one-way street. I may put my columns out there, but I try very hard not to read the replies and even harder not to respond. I usually succeed.

Am I not interested in other opinions?

Yes, but not on Twitter.

Why? Most importantly, too many people don’t use their real names, unlike Facebook, where they do.  I’m not interested in the opinions of those too cowardly to stand behind their own names.

Second, the layout is confusing. I have to search too long to find out the origin of a comment, rather than a retweet.

Yes, not understanding it is on me, but I am not alone. Ask the Facebook group called WHY IS TWITTER SO CONFUSING? I also find LinkedIn poorly organized, but LI is not a well of hate and abuse. It is civil. Most of the time.

I am signed up to follow about 80 people, including nonstop Tweeter Donald J. Trump, yet my feed is dominated by a guy tweeting about his cat.

“Twitter is not an accurate reflection of the world we live in,” wrote Issie Lapowsky in Wired. “It’s more of a fun house mirror, distorting and exaggerating its subjects to sometimes funny, sometimes frightening effect.”

It has 126 million subscribers, “but this self-selecting group can have a disproportionately large effect on the stories the media tells,” he wrote, long before Bari Weiss quit as an op-ed editor of The New York Times saying Twitter should be listed on the masthead.

Twitter creates a tide of ideas and people who are rising and falling, whether or not they actually are. Anytime I hear a broadcaster say a story about to be reported is trending on Twitter, I run like I’m being chased by a rabid wart hog.

Lapowsky cites Pew Research, which lays out the following facts:

  • Twitter users are younger than the population at large
  • They are wealthier
  • They are better educated
  • They lean further left
  • They are disproportionately Black — 25%, contrasted with 13% of the general population

Pew also found that the top 10% of Twitter users produce 80% of the tweets, and that’s not counting what’s produced by robots. Pew reports 66% of links to popular websites came from accounts that are likely to be bots.

So while you may think you are being wooed by a broad range of American opinion, you are not. Twitter is an unreliable method of taking society’s pulse. “That’s a fact that sometimes gets lost when the angry online hordes draw their pitchforks or when a presidential tweet about building a wall appears more popular than the policy itself really is,” writes Lapowsky.

It is the voice of partisan America, not necessarily honest or rational America. It is a mob that can bring someone as inoffensive as Ellen DeGeneres to tears. Because she listens to them. She should not. You should not. If you don’t listen, it’s just a leaf falling in the forest.

Frightening to me is the large number of users who get their “news” from Twitter, because they don’t trust the gatekeepers of the mainstream media.

They prefer “news” prepared by unknown people with unknown motives.

That is an actual threat to democracy. 

15 thoughts on “Twitter: The voice of a very small mob”

  1. Thanks for enlightening us regarding Twitter, Stu. I don’t use it, regardless. I was brought kicking and screaming into the Facebook age not quite a year ago, and only because certain groups I belong to had moved over there a while ago and it was the only way to keep up. And I minimize my use of even that.

    Nonetheless, it sounds to me like the vast majority of Twitter users/posters should now be referred to by the name they deserve: TWITS.

  2. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    Excellent analysis.

    I avoid Twitter like the plague. You explain why.

    H.G. Callaway

    1. I avoid like the plague that it is. You did a remarkable job describing it. My opinion is it should be taken off and thrown out with the rest of the trash

    Why back when we first got together, you told me that you never read the replys / opinions of your columns. Then, recently, you said that you seldom if ever look at twitter for the same reasons.
    Like you, I never use twitter other than checking in on our President. Most recently, the far left users of twitter, spewed their trash talk on the Presidents account.
    I propose that Zuckerburg (?) and others who have the technical ability, unleash a take off of the “invisible fence” used for dogs. Same results, same actions. When the dog tries to leave the protected area, they get Zapped ! The same could be applied to these lower life forms that don’t have opinions but do spew garbage out of their little minds. And just like dogs. If the user continues to be a low life, turn up the voltage. ( hmmm. is it possible for Stu to apply the same anecdote to his blog, I wonder ?!? )
    I also don’t bother with facebook. I don’t have the time to follow some one through life, telling me what he did and what he ate.

    1. I will be addressing Zuckerberg very soon. The problem with asking FB to ban hate, “hate” is subjective. I worry about letting him censor me.
      As you know, I have never banned anyone from saying what they want.
      I did delete one person who kept repeating the same thing over and over, about me not writing about something SHE cared about. I explained this is MY blog and I write about what I care about, but it did not get through.

  4. Totally agree. It flabbergasts me that a small number of haters can influence so many. What disgusts me even more are the apologists, especially politicians, who are controlled by twitter.
    I’m in the winter of my years, and the current climate on earth is scary and very worrisome.

  5. Great analysis, Stu!…based on what I’ve heard. Puritan, I liked that. I would call them part of PC, a minority with influence, esp., on the young. The Pew Research stats on Twitter you have provided says it all, though; the percentages, bots, links to pop websites, etc. (Btw, Bari Weiss’ article affirmed the bias and anti semitism at the NY Times. She left no stone unturned, yet I don’t believe 3, 6, or 10 reported on her article). I’ve heard that the dems rely on the ‘Twitter truth’ (cough). I believe, so do the MSM. This bodes well for Trump😀. The Inky, also. What concerns me is that we may be losing a generation of our young in the “garbage.”
    As Sgt. Schultz would say, “Very interestink.”

    1. Tom – you sure you didn’t mean to refer to Artie Johnson, from Martin & Rowan’s “Laugh-in”….”Veddy interestink, but schtoopid!” LoL Which is what are kids are becoming on the drivel from Twitter and the others of their ilk.

        1. And I stand to correct myself….that should have been “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” not the other way around as I had it.

  6. Twitter always amazed me as a sort of crossword puzzle where you have 140 characters to make your point in the least amount of words over five characters. They have now raised it to 280 characters opening up for more incisive points of view. For instance the opinion stated above by Stu would have just past the words: “Garbage generator and Sewer of moral supremacy. Great use of words to make a point but would have to be left out in making a point on Twitter. In a time when dialogue and exchange of viewpoints are becoming less constructive and more hardened, Twitter will continue to be only a burst of speech to form a bland, incomplete cross word puzzle with many needed characters dropped from making an intelligent comment. But for this President maybe limiting characters is a challenge to his Wharton Math.

  7. If Twitter had been around at Gettysburg: “Abe: drop the four score and seven years’ thing and just say ’87.'”

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