Note to self: Twitter is by the people, not we the people

The Pew Research Center reminds us that Twitter is not a proxy for the majority.

That feels like an obvious observation. Perhaps it’s even unnecessary. Surely we all know that blowhards mouthing off on Twitter are not duly appointed representatives for The People. Right?

But we forget that sometimes. The adrenaline kicks in when we see millions of passionate tweets zipping about. Reason is subsumed by volume and velocity. “Wow! The world really loves/hates this person/product/policy!”

That’s not true though. And we need to keep that in mind as each of us, individually, filters the signal from all that noise.

That’s why the Pew findings are so valuable.

This particular paragraph really drives the point home:

Twitter users are not representative of the public. Most notably, Twitter users are considerably younger than the general public and more likely to be Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. In the 2012 news consumption survey, half (50%) of adults who said they posted news on Twitter were younger than 30, compared with 23% of all adults. And 57% of those who posted news on Twitter were either Democrats or leaned Democratic, compared with 46% of the general public.

I write this mostly as a warning to myself. I’m older than the demographic noted in that excerpt, but I tend to align with the political perspectives you see on Twitter and Reddit and the like. When I think back to the heated moments of the 2012 election, I can see now that I fell into the trap of emphasizing the predictions and conclusions I wanted to see — and I favored outlets that provided those comforts.