The Echo Chamber of Twitter
Twitter is arguably one of the worst social media platforms, at least with regard to the effect is has on polarizing discourse, and reducing discussions to what can fit in a 280 character statement.
While there certainly exists the issue of bias and censorship on the part of the social media companies themselves, what I find interesting is how the active user base of twitter represents a remarkably small percentage of the population.
According to Pew research, 80% of all tweets are put out by 10% of users. Considering only approximately 7% of US adults are on twitter, approximately 80% of all tweets are put out by less than one percent of all US Americans. Furthermore, the people most active on twitter tend to be younger, wealthier, and hold higher degrees than the average American.
Why is this relevant? Because the next time you see something blow up on twitter, appearing to be the voice of the majority, it is most likely that whatever is being said is being said by a very small group of people.
Personally I find this somewhat comforting, but at the same time somewhat concerning. On one hand, it is comforting in that when you see a popular tweet espousing ideas you disagree with, the popularity of said tweet is not necessarily representative of the opinions held by the majority of everyday people in society.
On the flip side, people who are highly influenced by the mentality of the heard may begin to hold fringe beliefs when what they see on twitter is in their minds representative of the majority opinion.
Whatever people post, and whatever the reaction, it is important that you understand that the number of likes and retweets is not indicative of majority opinion in society. Since humans are by nature social animals, most humans have a tendency to gravitate toward the herd. We see this in how buzz words propagate, how sayings becomes tropes, and in how people being living, breathing NPC’s.
The next time you see a virtue signaling celebrity who brow beats ideas you hold, or the next time you see support for ideas that you deem reprehensible, keep in mind these are non-representative samples and they are not worth raising your blood pressure over.