Never Heard of Him

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.]

3 thoughts on “Never Heard of Him

  1. So that’s why “Who is John Galt” was on so many lips at one time… It was the 1950s version of Twitter.

  2. Forcing someone to read ATLAS SHURGGED is a form of turture. I at least got to page25 being giving the book back to my friend, and she refused to date me because of that.

    Whwn Philip K. Dick passed on, the headlines were not very big, but the remorse grewwith time and each passing mention.

    And the passing of the one the lead vocalists for the Platters happened on the same day Ray Bradbury passed on. That was pretty much buried in the back pages while Bradbury got the headlines.

    And fan death hoaxes are hard to pull off these days.

  3. Everybody in AZAPA was talking about _Atlas Shrugged_, and it sounded like something my roommate would like, so I told him about it. He read it in one night. I ended up reading it three or four times, or some number in between that accounts for skipping the concentrated stoopid speech and just reading the really funny parts. Some people don’t appreciate comedy.

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