*In a recently released report about Twitter, Edison Research claims that Black folks make up about 25% of Twitter users, an extraordinary number considering that we only make up about 13.5% of the total population. According to the report and a few responses I’ve read, that number is so great because young Black people are more likely to access the internet via their mobile devices and the number of African-American celebrities that actively tweet, which may cause their fans to join to have that feeling of closeness and feel as if they’re active in their lives.
I have my own theory…the 140 character limit of tweets is just long enough to capture the interest of legions of folks that have a 24-second shot clock of an attention span, anything longer and that 25% percent would decrease to about 5%. Finally African-Americans are not lagging behind in a technological advance, but it just so happens this innovation promotes social interaction and feeds the sixth sense of nosiness, as opposed to an intellectual and societal movement.
Sure, you can follow Black public intellectuals like Cornel West (CornelWest), Melissa Harris Lacewell (@harrislacewell) and Mark Anthony Neal (@NewBlackMan), political commentators Roland Martin (@rolandsmartin), Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile), noted writers Toure` (@ToureX), Nelson George (@nelsongeorge), and Terry McMillan (@MsTerryMcMillan). However, their followers pale in comparison to those of mogul Diddy (@iamdiddy), rappers Nicki Minaj (@NickiMinaj) and Fabolous (@myfabolouslife), comedian Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real), and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal (The_Real_Shaq) amongst an endless list of A-Listers down to a bevy of no-list Reality TV personalities.
It’s a microcosm of what we value as a community and in plain text, devalues. I’m sure thousands of Twitter users can roll off the trending topics of the past seven days, but ask them what’s been happening around the globe or the contents and there’s a great chance that you’ll stump them. Dig deeper into Edison’s report and you’ll find that most Twitter users are well-educated and increasingly wealthy, but there’s no racial breakdown to these categories, that data may be far more indicative of who that 25% are.
I want to read a study that draws a correlation between educational attainment and Twitter usage among African-Americans. I’m interested in finding out how a group of people that score well below state and national averages in the language arts sections of proficiency and assessment tests are disproportionate users of a service whose core is communication through the written word. If Twitter has managed to do what school systems across the country have failed, then it may be time for a new day in education, because hundreds of thousands of teachers may be behind the learning curve in teaching students to communicate effectively through the written word. Take a look at any state’s School Report Card and you’ll find that areas with low socioeconomic status and high concentrations of African-Americans or Hispanics have disturbingly low test scores, a minute amount of students in advanced placement courses and graduation rates are nothing to be desired.
Am I to believe that only the talented tenth of these students that have attained college degrees and gone into the workforce make up that 25%? Or should I be concerned that there may be an overwhelming populace of functional illiterates with the space to express themselves literally? I guess at 140 characters or less we’re all scholars.
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About the writer
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.blogspot.com/