Twitter is an interesting place. It is a conduit for the id, where people routinely convert their in-the-moment gut reactions into permanent records (the bogeyman of countless school kids of generations past), far too often with regrets and apologia. Despite near-infinite examples of “I shouldn’t have tweeted that,” however, it remains addiction-level popular.

For some, that is.

Twitter has 38 million users in the US. That’s a significant population… if all Tweeters were alike.

They’re not. While the median Twitter user tweets twice a month, a subset are far more active. Ten percent of US tweeters generate 80% of Twitter’s traffic, with these users tweeting an average of 138 times per month. These “super users” tend to be political in their tweets, and they are, per a Pew Research study, are “younger, more educated, more likely to identify as a Democrat and likely to earn more than the average U.S. citizen.”

In other words, political Twitter in America is a population of perhaps 4 million users that leans left.

In other other words, about 1.5% of the nation’s total 18+ population.

In other other other words, Twitter’s noisemakers are neither a major population chunk nor representative of the general population.

So, why does it seem that Twitter is running the political and cultural agenda in the country?

As a social media acquaintance suggested, the fact that the political chattering classes have an outsized presence on Twitter is a likely contributor. As would be many politicians’ use of the platform.

If you play in a particular sand box, you’re more apt to be influenced by the others in that sand box. If your sand box is dominated by a cadre of “mean girls,” it’s natural to alter your behavior to fit the mean girls’ standards. That the mean girls are a small and unrepresentative minority in the grand scheme can easily be masked by the confines of the sand box, and it’s understandable to react to them more than to everyone else.

Of course, their power stems entirely from our granting it to them, and the only way to defang the mean girls is not to play their game. That means you either ignore their jabs and snipes, or you leave the sand box entirely.

Thicken your skin enough, and the sand box won’t feel like such a vicious or controlling place. Or, just leave.

I agree with Opie. Twitter is an awful place, full of awful people who relish saying awful things to others. I share blog posts there, but otherwise pay it little heed.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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