A Yahoo! writer uses the passing of Rodney King to illustrate a social media phenomenon in “How death, major news events, expose Twitter’s generation gap” —
1. Death is reported
2. News of death spreads
3. Name begins trending on Twitter
4. Name preceded by “Who is” begins trending on Twitter
5. Backlash against ignorant users responsible for “Who is” trend ensues
The latest generation of Twitter users might reasonably wonder who King was, so many not having been born yet when the video of cops beating King originally aired, and riots ensued when the cops were acquitted at trial. That’s perfectly fair. Yet it may not be the real explanation behind steps 4 and 5. One analyst says:
“I think the reason why bigger events exposes the divide is because people just want to participate in the conversation,” [Jen] Chung told Yahoo News. “They want to have a say, even though they might not have anything to say.”
Yes! Now you’re onto something. You can’t go far wrong by always looking first for the attention-getting motivations behind any internet transaction. Rodney King died? “I don’t know who this famous person is – pay attention to me, baby!”
The same phenomenon can be triggered by the appearance of an unrecognized geezer on a program with a young demographic:
Sometimes, you just have to be a former Beatle who shows up at the Grammys.
“Who the f— is Paul McCartney and why is he on this?” Kristen Dewe wrote [tweeted] on Feb. 13 during the Grammys broadcast.
That made me laugh, too, if not for the reason the writer thought it was funny. He inferentially explains why people should recognize McCartney by identifying him as “a former Beatle.” I’m old enough to remember the joke about two teenagers in line for a 1970s Wings concert, the wiser head explaining “The Beatles were the band McCartney was in before Wings.” Wings? Feel free to tweet, “Who the f—?”
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]