“The elite discussion on the platform is important, but it is not necessarily observed directly by the masses.”
Of those 2,600-plus “elites,” the vast majority are journalists, pundits, or news organizations…
If you’re not following at least one of those accounts, your Twitter use is likely bereft of news, not just political news.
🤔 They clearly don’t follow a lot of artists, writers, activists or academics if they think you see no news or politics without expressly following news accounts. I saw just one person I follow on the list but would not characterize my feed as apolitical 😂 Authors have been extremely vocal about reproductive rights and politically motivated book bans. Queer and disabled people call out problems constantly.
In our case, 59.6% of a random sample of users (856,853 of 1,437,774) were insufficiently politically interested to follow the accounts of the president, key senators, or major news media organizations.
I’m not sure you can draw the conclusion someone isn’t interested in politics because they don’t follow national level politicians or large news organizations on social media. For example, I’m more interested in local, county, and state level happenings than national policies totally beyond my influence, so I follow local policy advocates to learn about housing issues and bike infrastructure in my community. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s turned my attention and energy away from the national level, to my community.
Another facet is feeling unrepresented by politics at a national level. The national Democratic party is filled with old, out of touch, ineffective and spineless naifs who will fiddle us into fascism while conservatives chortle. I have little patience for moderate Democrats who are afraid to piss off racists, sexists, fascists, and homophobes. I’d wager many other progressives are likewise fed up.
I also think it’s not unreasonable that people might choose to use social media for entertainment and get their news and politics elsewhere.
Moreover, while they call this finding bleak, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing to be disconnected from the ugliness of political spin. Frankly I consider politicians to be a terrible source for political information. The two major parties have become so antagonistic, it seems that every single thing the other side does must be condemned, even if it’s helping supply infant formula during a shortage 🤦♀️ (That certainly dragged the idiot politicians and pundits who have never talked to a mother in their life out of the woodwork 👀 I don’t have kids and I know that not all babies latch! Among the many other reasons “just breastfeed” isn’t a valid response.) The news often becomes an elitist form of entertainment that doesn’t necessarily inform action, but spurs hopelessness or anxiety.
Somehow it’s this minority of people that do follow politicians and news organizations who are driving the vast majority of the nasty political discourse on Twitter? If so, they’re doing enough damage to our political division as it is. We hardly need to feed more people with The Discourse of the day.