Why Twitter May Be Ruinous for the Left
Twitter exhibits a curiously tight grip on American culture, Robinson Meyer argued last month. Tweets are embedded in news stories, screencapped for Instagram, and quoted on TV shows and podcasts. The platform, however, can also misconstrue people’s ideas and identities, he writes: “On Twitter, ideas are so commodified that to say something is simultaneously to amplify it. You’re never ‘just saying’ on Twitter. You’re always doing.”
Meyer prefaced his thesis by describing a Twitter dustup between supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders—and how a series of tweets can create a large-scale news story or debate online. It seems to me that the real heart of the article, however, comes in the fifth paragraph:
Twitter is especially loved by the press, and the unfortunate affinity that journalists and policy makers have for the social network means that—as with politics itself—you may not care about Twitter, but it cares about you, especially if you’ve just done something embarrassing on national television.
According to a 2019 analysis by Pew Research Center, 22 percent of adults in the U.S. use Twitter, but just 10 percent of those adults are responsible for 80 percent of tweets. Yet, as the article clearly lays out, Twitter exerts outsize power and influence on our public discourse.