Social Media’s Looks Inside Outlanders’ Shot At Independence? (Update on Vote)

How does Starz network’s new TV series Outlanders set in the mid 1700s relate to modern-day social media? Well, aside from the trending tweets pertaining to the impending nuptials between the story’s lead characters, it’s really the descendants of those Outlanders and their current pursuit of independence that’s catching all the buzz.

Yes, on September 18th, a Scottish referendum determines whether or not the country will finally become an independent state. And, it's the referendum question or what many Scots today refer to as the “YES” Campaign as to what’s dominating social media.

Clans Still Divided

The TV show’s narrative highlights how the 18th Century Scottish clans rose up to rebel against the English throne ruled by King George II, in an effort to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart family of King James II. The movement known as Jacobitism took its name from Jacobus, the Latinised form of James.

However the establishment of clans attaching themselves to geographic territories was often-times divisive, due to the amount of infighting amongst groups. While each individual Scottish clan was tightly bound together by blood and loyalty, they tended to be fractionalized in their attempts at forming a unified nation.

While loyalty and devotion ran deep, feuds with rival clans (often passed down from generation to generation), escalated over time. In 1746, the Jacobite rebellion was squelched by the British at the Battle of Culloden, almost destroying the make-up of the Scottish clan system altogether.

Today, with the referendum for independence hanging in the balance, once again clansman and clanswomen are divided. This time based more on age than family name, a generation gap has opened up across Scotland. With younger voters more inclined to back independence, their parents and elders are in favor of remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Support for the status quo is strongest among the over-60s, who worry about the consequences that breaking free would play on pensions, healthcare and savings; whereas, the pro-independence movement is largely driven by those under-40.

Battle of Words Weigh In. . .

This go-around, the weaponry-dujour is words versus swords. The UK Mirror's report, “Scottish Independence: The ‘Yes’ campaign are dominating the social media battle” supports the belief that the “YES” campaign is leading over the “NO” or “Better Together” contingencies.

In a series of statisical break-downs, they note that the stats from Twitter and Facebook show the YES campaign is “waaaaaaaaaaay more active on social media.”

On September 17th, Twitter released figures that show that the “Yes” campaign has been adding followers at a much faster pace when tracking the hashtag #IndyRef. The Twitter account @YESScotland has seen an incredible 100% growth in followers since June, with over 90,000 now following them.

The comparisons are similar on Facebook, where “Yes” has more Likes than “No”. And in the five weeks leading up to the vote, Facebook studies point to 2.05 million direct interactions with “Yes”, fractionally more than the 1.96m related to “No”.

On the flip-side, there is evidence to indicate that users using the hashtag #voteno were less likely to be as engaging on social media. While there is some aggressive activity intermittently, it is less likely that ‘no’ campaigners will share other content on Twitter or re-tweet content containing the hashtag.

Will the Outlanders Finally Outdo Their Historical Foes?

With millions of posts, shares and related content flooding the Web, will Thursday’s vote teeter on a tweet? Not according to The Guardian. In their 11th hour post, they’re betting on Facebook. In an editorial titled, “Scottish independence: how Facebook could change it all,” they note that the outcome may be swung by Facebook activity in the last 24 hour, and yes, The “YES Scotland” campaign is leading marginally.

One however has to wonder -- had the Jacobites been successful some 250 years ago in disengaging  themselves from the British crown, might there have been even a need for this referendum? But the past is the past.  Even the fictional character Claire Beauchamp -- who knew the historical outcome having time-traveled from the future -- was unsuccessful in convincing the Machenzie clan that their fight was doomed from the start.

But this go-around is different, as I don't believe history will repeat itself. In fact, I’ll put myself out there by formally acknowledging my sympathies lie with these modern-day Jacobites, and their 21st Century shot at turning the tides. And you know what? — in addition to the YES Vote being a very good wager -- the other sure bet is we’re all still invited to Claire's & Jamie's OUTLANDER Wedding on September, 20, 2014, no matter what the outcome is at the polls. Kilts optional!

UPDATE: USA Today - September 19, 2014 ~ Voters rejected a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom by a comfortable margin of 55% to 45%. British Prime Minister David Cameron helped ensure that outcome by promising the central government in London — one of the most powerful among Western nations — would hand over more power to Edinburgh if voters chose to stay in the union.


Sep 18, 2014
by Anonymous

The Jacobites weren't

The Jacobites weren't fighting to disengage themselves from the British crown. The Rebellion wasn't fought for "freedom" or "independence" from Britain AT ALL. It was fought simply to exchange Charlie for Geordie--the Stuart dynasty for the Hanoverian dynasty. That's all.

Sep 18, 2014
by Ron Callari

The Jacobites wanted to

The Jacobites wanted to unseat George II of the Hanover family to replace with Bonnie Prince Charles of the Stuart Family -which if successful would have been the first step in disengaging from the existing British Crown!