Welcome to my weekly blogging series: AFAIK (As Far As I Know) If you want to read last week's entry and find out the origin of the name of this series, click here.
The election is over, as is my career of starky Twitter comments. I'm not interested in whining about or praising the results of the election anymore. What's done is done. Let's move on. Let 2017 worry about itself.
I've become somewhat of what could be considered a maniac on Twitter. It's the perfect outlet for me in the worst of ways.
The world seems feel the same sharing impulse that I do with this "up to the minute" social network.
Except, most of the world doesn't actually use Twitter.
In the same vein where we feel the impulse to preach to our Facebook friends about abortion or Bernie Sanders or our new orange overlord, it's mostly to no avail because we keep ourselves tucked away in these bubbles of our own design.
We are what we eat. The Facebook friends you allow into your virtual corners are vetted by YOU. If you don't like them, you ignore their friend request. If someone posts an opinion you don't like, you unfollow or block them. We are able to wear blinders all the time. It would stand to reason that your article most likely won't change anyone's mind because you surround yourself with those that ALREADY AGREE WITH YOU.
I follow mostly liberals on Twitter. I'm a conservative, but many entertainers and journalists are liberal so I follow many of them. Many people who are my age tend to be liberal as well. I'm surrounded by it. I watch a ton of movies, and keep up with stuff in general. To me, the wave in this election was going to come from the democratic side.
They are louder, they have more media control, they are better with technology, and they are seemingly united around stopping new-Hitler.
Turns out, the internet made the liberal movement seem much bigger than the voting public proved it to be.
Twitter doesn't not represent the world as a whole, or even a large swath of it. It's only made up of annoying loud mouths like me that feel the need to soap box with some insightful link or quipy 140 character phrase.
A good example for me would be how I watch Westworld. (finally I get to talk about it!)
I listen to a Westworld podcast, read about it on Reddit and Twitter, so I (and my wife) spend a good bit of time picking it apart. The other day, I talked to someone about the show and what they had thought about it. I asked what they thought of a certain theory and suddenly, their mind was blown. That theory hadn't occurred to them, despite it being totally obvious to me. My way of watching Westworld is different than most, but I've surrounded myself with all this data that fooled me into thinking that the whole audience of Westworld picked up on the same things that I did.
I remember when fans of the comic book series, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wanted a live action movie. Reddit and online forums begged for this movie for years. They got it, because the movie production studio saw that it had a big fanbase.
The movie ended up bombing. It made only $47 million worldwide. The production budget was $60 million. To put that in perspective, Doctor Strange made $85 million on its first weekend only in the US.
What does that tell us? The numbers of clamoring fans we are seeing online don't necessarily reflect reality.
That should be encouraging: I don't want the world to be Twitter. It's full of people like me who are extremely opinionated or people who are extremely opinionated who would never state their views in the real world. (Twitter does seem to be personified in the "Not My President" protests, however)
That said, Twitter does have about 320 million active users. That's pretty impressive, but compared to Facebook's 1.5 billion active users, Twitter seems like small potatoes.
This also should show how false polling data has been (which is an understatement). Is there even a possible way to capture what is actually going to happen in an election? A survey will always be skewed by how and where and how old the target is. The Clinton campaign had an impressive system for gathering data and seemed to have an impressive presence on social. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to help them much. Turns out, it doesn't matter how many 20-somethings you have on iPads.
Trust me, there's nothing wrong with groups. We are all part of a hive mind in some way or another. We just can't forget that the rest of the world exists and may believe something different than we do. We are only going to get deeper into our groups as algorithms and technology is now more tailor made to the individual than ever. I was just complaining the other day about how Apple Music gives me recommendations based on what I like, but it never suggests anything outside of my normal listening habits. That's kind of of the story of the moment right? If you surround yourself with fringy, virus-filled conservative websites, you probably will only be reading about other perspectives through your fringy, virus-filled conservative websites.
Watching NBC cope with this realization on Election night that all their data was taken from inside their bubble was stunning, and pretty comedic. They were suddenly like malfunctioning AI humanoids failing to recognize that anyone had different views than them. Chuck Todd was stuck in a loop tapping his giant iPad looking for a path for Hillary. *tap tap tap* "Maybe if she wins these...no" *tap tap tap* "These? Nope" *tap tap tap* "Dear God" *tap tap tap tap tap* "EVERYTHING I KNOW IS A LIE" *tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap*
For an ultra-connected world, we may not actually be that connected after all. In fact, as current events are beginning to prove, we may be less connected than ever.