Twitter vs. US Congress: Demographics
9/27/2011 by: Darleen Hartley
Talk about a generation gap. Twitter, and other social media formats, thrive in the 37 year old group. The US Congress is filled, on average, with 58 year olds, with Senators pushing the limit at the age of 63.
Twitter = Generation X
Congress outpaces Twitter in college and post graduate degrees. Approximately 70 percent of the Senators and Congressmen in the US Congress hold advanced degrees compared to the 21 percent of Tweeters who hold Bachelor’s Degrees and 18 percent who attended graduate school.
What does this mean to the public at large? Well, it’s reassuring that the people leading the United States are well educated. However, it says they are a bit old to be "in the swing of things." It is said that most of the tweeting from the people in office is accomplished by their aides. On a list of how to become a congressional aide one of the first bullet points is: Be Computer Literate. The job description on a college website says congressional aides do research on legislative bills and handle emails for their congressperson. The website should be updated to include tweeting for the congressperson as well apparently.
An abstract, to be followed by a research paper published in Social Science Computer Review, by David Lassen a political science major working with Professor Adam Brown at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah indicated that Congressional members were more likely to use Twitter if their party leaders urged them to, if they were young, or in the Senate instead of the House of Representatives. It didn’t seem to matter if the elected individual was in danger of losing their seat or not.
Congressional Twitter Teacher, Jason Chaffetz
The House Republicans must have taken the piece seriously as they had a freshman Representative from Utah, Jason Chaffetz, present a speech about using the technology. In addition to being tech savvy, Chaffetz is also frugal. The new kid on the block made his mark in selecting to sleep on a cot in his office as an example of constraining spending. He is known for Cot-Side Chats, which are posted on the Internet similar in idea to President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats in the 1930’s. Chaffetz currently is focusing on immigration issues.
On the Democrat’s side, Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri is recognized as being well-versed in using Twitter to interact with her constituents. Perhaps that comes from waitressing her way through law school where she was in constant contact with the public. She is chairman of the HSGAC subcommittee conducting investigations regarding efficiency, transparency and accountability in the government contracting process. Wonder if she read Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren’s book We Meant Well regarding the US in post-Saddam Iraq wherein he states: "It was a program characterized by pervasive waste and inefficiency…"
McCaskill who has more than 58,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t stop there. She is using the Internet to her advantage with her own YouTube Channel.
To find other Senators on YouTube click here.
Jason Chaffetz, Claire McCaskill, Congress, Senator, Twitter, tweet, David Lassen, Adam Brown, BYU, Brigham Young University, Senate, House of Representatives, Roosevelt, Fireside Chats, Cot-Side Chats, HSGAC, government accounting, government contracts, We Meant Well
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