Tea Party Movement Does Not Move Social Media

There is a strange phenomenon afoot in this country. The rumblings of an establishment of a "Tea Party" party can be heard growing louder and louder. The National Tea Party, a first-time convention for the group has attracted 1,100 delegates to Nashville, Tennessee for three days of protest, caucus and debate. It's a movement everyone says is people-powered to give voice to the frustrations of a heretofore leaderless party. With all this talk channeling through the traditional news vehicles of legacy newspapers and TV, why hasn't this group chosen to be represented on social networks?

For such a large event that draws on people who like to hear the sound of their own voice, one would think they would have a significant presence on Twitter and Facebook. If they are going to proselytize others to join their movement, social networking would seem like the logical distribution channel to amplify their message. Yet when I searched for their presence, my cursory research only surfaced this "Tea Party News"  account with just 2122 followers worldwide.



Their limited number of followers is not because they don't have a lot to tweet about. Note that this account has sent out 300,438 tweets as of the time of this posting. That's a lot of yakking to such a small nucleus of folks. ( UPDATE: There are apparently more Tea Party accounts on Twitter, but no collective voice under one banner).

Sarah PalinSarah PalinSince the convention is a three-day affair and is culminating with a keynote address by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin on February 6, one would think it would have been a 'trending' topic on Twitter. However over the course of this time-frame, it has not appeared.

In fact, I just checked the hashtag #teaparty before writing this post, and was surprised to see only a few tweets trickling in and none that talked about the Nashville convention?



When checking on the Top Ten Twitter trends for the week on 'What The Trend' again neither Tea Party nor Sarah Palin caused enough of a stir to make the list.

 Top Ten Twitter Topics for the Week according to 'What The Trend'Top Ten Twitter Topics for the Week according to 'What The Trend'

Noteworthy, the "Teabagging for Jesus" tweet (above) refers to another splinter group made up of the "Birthers," the "Deathers," and the "Deniers" who have embraced the extremist religious right agenda. And according to a Perrspectives report, "they are Tea Bagging for Jesus and they are in your face about it." Bearing in mind the sexual connotation of "teabagging" this seems like an odd choice of words to describe a serious movement. Upon further research, satirists have even developed a Web site in its name. But even those folks have given up hitting on the easy target. They have not updated the site since May 20, 2009.





On Facebook, there is a little more involvement. However, there appears to be to no concerted effort to draw people in under one big tent - just a lot of factions vying for the spotlight. The "American Tea Party" with over 14,000 members, according to its profile information covers "the new American Revolution" and is "sponsored by Pajamas TV" (which is somewhat suspect).



Then there are the "Tea Party Patriots" which has signed up an impressive 66,000+ followers but talks about having mobilized over 1.2 million people on April 15, 2009 to spread their word over 50 states. However if that be the case, why haven't that million been encouraged to register with this group on Facebook?



One emerging set of principles that could align tea party groups is taking shape on the Tea Party Patriots'  Web site, where registered members can contribute to something that might resemble a platform.



"Note - it is called the Contract From America, not the Contract With America," said William Temple, who runs a tea party group in Brunswick, Ga. "We are the ones giving the direction."

The convention, according to a Washington Post report in some respects has had the feel of a big blind date. The delegates chatted each other up for a year online, checking out each other's ideas and grievances, and they thought they might have something in common. Now they are spending a couple of days together, at a very nice resort, nibbling hibachi beef and browsing elegant "tea bag" jewelry, to see whether they like each other enough to be together. 


Headless and leaderless, these tea party groups are not an organized political movement so much as they are a collection of people who generally agree on one key point: that President Obama and the Democrats who control Congress are assaulting their civil liberties and leading them down the wrong path.

Unfortunately, much of what is being said and promoted appears to be scare tactics to gain attention and attract more followers. This could possibly be the reason why they haven't been successful with the social networks. While the 'wisdom of crowds' is sometimes discounted as "group think," it is a very democratic arena to take a pulse on what the majority of folks are thinking and feeling at any point in time. However when your voice is not being 'retweeted' by others to any great degree, one has to wonder about the legitimacy of the voice.

Tom TancredoTom TancredoThis was clearly evident when the National Tea Party chose a former US representative  of Colorado to open up their convention. Tom Tancredo who ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination as an anti-immigration candidate, railed against Obama and "the cult of multiculturalism." Americans could be "boiled to death in a cauldron of the nanny state," he said. "People who couldn't even spell the word 'vote,' or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House."

When Tancredo said, "His name is Barack Hussein Obama," the audience booed loudly.

"The race for America is on," Tancredo said. "The president and his left-wing allies in Congress are going to look at every opportunity to destroy the Constitution before we have a chance to save it. So put your running shoes on."

If people behind these fractionalized Tea Party groups ever assemble in mass, they are going to need a lot more than running shoes and scare tactics to get their message across to mainstream. They are going need a concerted effort vis a vis social networks that amplify and strengthen their message into one collective voice. Right now, all they have is a Tower of Babel, with a lot of nervous mice in a maze running hither and fro, speaking in tongues that don't make a lot of sense.

UPDATE:

I waited for 50 comments to be posted before I weighed back in here. I probably could now write a follow-up article based on all the input provided in the COMMENT SECTION below - and for that - I say thank you. My intention  in writing this post was not to belittle the movement, even though there is plenty of fodder and easy pickin's to do so. My attention was focused on analyzing why a new movement would not choose some 21st Century tools to build their base and their communication within that base.  While some think the various "Tea Party" factions and diverse voices are necessary to allow for an evolution of thought - I see greater opportunity in gaining traction and credibility if you channel your resources and bring the fold in under one tent.  Some might call this a "circus" - others might see it as controlled chaos.  I favor the latter - and so did my kids every time we visited the Big Top when they were growing up.

Once again, thanks for the input, the feedback and the discourse - I think it is healthy as long as we all check our emotions at the door. Name-calling and petty bickering does not further a debate - it only  builds fences.

Keep up the healthy dialogue!

Dave Horsey CartoonDave Horsey Cartoon
Comments
Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Durrrrr

Obvious liberal shill is obvious.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

belittle what you know little about

the only way to make the protesters insignificant is to belittle them--Please try a little understanding--if there is a leader to the protest i would think it would be Ron Paul--Why is no one speaking his name? just love for Palin--get a grip --it is more about liberty then propaganda--leftists and right wingers beware!

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Still don't get it

After losing in Virginia, NJ, and Mass they still don't get it. Maybe they'll get it after Nov. 2010, but somehow I doubt it, the denial will continue.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

ignorant post

This idiot has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.

Bashing the opposite side is completely ignorant.

Maybe you should INVENT some intelligence for yourself and educate yourself. There is a HUGE tea party movement online. Learn how to use technology and not just SIMPLE search terms and you will find this out for yourself.

Hopefully you are not a journalist, because if you are...this is a piss poor article and you are a piss poor excuse for a journalist.

I don't even know what this site is, but with this poor excuse of writing, I'll never come to it again.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Teabagging for Jesus

Dude, can't you recognize satire? Otherwise, right on.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Still Don't Get it

Who is in denial. Perchance did you catch the elections in 2008?? They were a tad more significant than the scattered ones since.

People vote local, largely, though the national scene has an influence. But why leave out New York??

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

CommonSense2010

There is plenty of social networking going on. The same way it happened Way Back Then...in coffeeshops and homes. And in the new manner, in PRIVATE Facebooks, PRIVATE LJs, and PRIVATE IMs among trusted people.

All your article proves is that the Tea Party sorts are mature people who are not social network whores looking for attention.

And they also don't want the White House's Chicago Political Machine watching everything they say, any more than the Founding Fathers would be inviting British commanders to their meetings.

Stop and think about that for a moment. Or don't. You might wet your pants, handwringing liberals.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Can you spell "invention"

Teabaggers are not a movement - it's a lot of corprate/political money ginning up a handful of people. Pull Fox News and it falls flat. Real movements do not depend on a news network to get them started.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Yuppp

The Tea Party is a contract ON America.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

what? there was a subject here?

I never got past: "...why hasn't this group chosen to be represented on social networks?" as our local Tea Party uses Facebook as our primary communications/meeting place.

The rest appears to be the usual silly socialist hokum.

So, Ron Callari, did this satisfy the requirement for sophomore creative writing and was your left handed professor impressed?

I might have to re-think my following every link on Google News...

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Tea party

Perhaps if you used Tea Party and not "Teaparty" you would find the real information. Leave it to a liberal journalist to demand that a non liberal group conform to his idea of what it should be named and what it should believe.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Tea Parties

Can't you folks see, this whole tea party business is a flash in the pan. Sturm und Drang. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The reason it's not more widespread on Facebook and Twitter is that these are old farts who don't know how to use them!

Reg Perrin

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

TEA Party

You are exactly right. They don't get it and never will but who cares. Obviously, someone got it in Massachusetts.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Whoa, ease up pal. Your rant

Whoa, ease up pal. Your rant points to a quote from above: "This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes,"

What happened to discourse? Take a deep breath.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Ron Paul Republicans do not

Ron Paul Republicans do not care how you try to spin our numbers. Our beliefs do not change merely because someone belittles our movement.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Hypocrits unite

Wow, accusations of bashing and name-calling from the folks who hold up signs calling Obama a Nazi and a Socialist. Hey Mr Kettle, phone call for you, it's Mr Pot, he says "You're black."

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Teabagges clearly are...

The result of what happens when swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

ignorant post

OK, sorry to all. I was responding to "ignorant post."

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Loony Liberals

Isn't it amazing when you read sites like this, that liberals actually say conservatives are all about hate?

Didn't the liberals chosen one say that people should get involved in politics. Or did that mean only if you agree with the Democrats?

I also find refering to the Republicans as the party of "no" equally amusing. repubicans block Obama's agenda for a year and they are the party of no, but Democrats blocked the Bush agenda for eight years and they are what?

Democrats have absolutely no right to demand that conservatives back a far left agenda since they were not willing to back Bush's right wing agenda when Republicans held the whitehouse.

You can not demand what your not willing to also give!

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

What irrational reasoning will Republitards come up with....

.... After Obama gets re-elected in 2012?

Its sad that the GOP, once strong with the leadership of Reagan is now a blathering, whining bunch of "I'm running for office to get rich and sell books" Palin what-to-bees.

Its as if they STOPPED following ANY republican values and are just parroting Rush Limbaugh. Problem is Limbaugh is an entertainer!.

Stages of GOP reality:
1) Denial. They deny they wiped-out the economy and lost the presidency.
2) "Not me, you!" Ah, yes. The game that 7 years play. One kid does something and gets laughed at, and says "Not me, you!"
3) Fraud. If you can grow a grass roots campaign, then pay Fox News to orchestrate one for you.
4) Parrot. Keep your entire GOP platform down to Rush Limbaugh sound bites. Don't discuss issues!
5) Find a new fake topic to hype every two weeks and scream, scream, scream about it. Because screaming like a lunatic always impresses voters.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

2010 and 2012

So, how is loosing Ted Kennedy's seat working for you?

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Davide

The tea party "movement" is just a bunch of old, beer bellied, angry , white men, who
suffer from paranoia and ignorance. We are fortunate that most tea partiers are old and will pass in a few years and go the way of the original Archie Bunker.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

I thought this had substance

"I might have to re-think my following every link on Google News..."

I agree, I was looking for news. Not some whining idiot complaining about why the Tea party is'nt plugged into the stupid social Pain in the ass networking sites. seriously social media?.. they are nothing but red hats in a sewing circle...

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

you sir are an idiot

you sir are an idiot.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Tweet volume and Facebook friends are the bar for recognition?

More and more people are growing tired of the usual politics from both sides of the aisle. Where do they have to turn? There's a lack of leadership on the right and the arrogance and irresponsibility on the left. Lots of people do not approve of where the country is heading and are now speaking out.

Is it a united, cohesive and well organized movement? No... not yet. So that's reason to mock them? They aren't tweeting enough? They don't have a common page with millions of Facebook friends?

It's sad if that is the bar for validation or recognition.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Dork

You are an obvious dork and noob. lmao

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

CSPAN coverage of the Tea Party Convention

I watched the Tea party coverage on CSPAN last night. The viewers' calls and comments were especially interesting...when asked if the Tea Party should form a 3rd national party, at least half the viewers replied in the negative. There were no follow-up questions by the host (which would have been interesting as to why the individuals did not believe in the creation of a 3rd national party). Instead, the host would ask the viewer to expand on his/her thinking only if the answer was positive. One listener, when asked if the Tea Party was a force in his area, replied that , "yeah, I know a couple of other people interested in it and I sent out an email today so I think it's going to start building".

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Scott Brown - How's that working for you, republitards?

The pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, male prostitute Republican.

LOL, yeah the GOP has REALLY got its direction straight (no pub intended, LOL).

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Tea-bagging a pathetic sign.

Watching Americans make up their political mind is like seeing chicken flock to support for KFC. Their gut reaction when being angered, no matter who feeds that anger, is to lash out to anything, including their own shin-bones. It's kind of fubby in a sad and pathetic way.

Feb 6, 2010
by Anonymous

Teabaggers Suck

'Teabaggers' are such complete fools, it's a wonder they know how to wake up every morning. Nothing but a bunch of idiotic Chicken Littles with 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling' crap. Wake up and try to actually help the country instead of being conservative, Republican jackasses.