Twitter Usage by Congress

Wow, what a cornucopia of ideas stemming from the Anthony Weiner fallout to blog about! I will start with a short one. Also, I remember the old adage that one should never talk about politics or religion, however this is just too juicy!

I heard the other day that congressional twitter usage was down by almost 25% and that got me to thinking why? There is a very sacrosanct rule in research about never drawing a conclusion from a correlation. The usual example is that red cars are ticketed the most, so don’t buy a red car. Studies have shown that there is nothing, per se, about the color of the car. However, people that like to drive fast seem to also favor red cars. That is the reason red cars are ticketed the most, not just the color. Without interviewing every representative and senator that Tweets, anything postulated is simply conjecture on my part, but moving fast towards my sixth decade and with my career change into psychology, I have found that common sense, past experience, and psychological tenants can offer some generalizations.

Have you ever noticed while driving on a highway, that when people come upon a law enforcement officer doing ten miles below the speed limit, most everyone slows down? Now a percentage might simply be wondering if their speedometer is off and want to play it safe, however, there is a portion that will feel apprehensive or guilty about their usual tendency to speed and over compensate by slowing down also. Those that know their speedometers are basically accurate and tend to obey traffic laws will simply pass the patrol car at the speed limit without any worries.

This leads me to the question of why has congress’ Twitter usage dropped? Further, and unfortunate as far as I am concerned, the majority of the drop off is by Democrats. It seems to me that if the only information these representatives or senators have been Tweeting are normal, job related Tweets, there would be no concern about continued Tweets and, therefore, no drop in the overall amount of Tweets. If, however, someone is concerned about possible inappropriate Tweets they have posted in the past, well …?!? I know, I know, this is painting every congressman that has reduced her or his tweets with a broad brush, but it is worth pondering.

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