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Keep Your Tweets To Yourself, Senator

By Alexandra Petri

For once, Sarah Palin is right.

Her mysterious silence on Twitter has some commentators all aflutter. But it turns out that Americans don't need or expect our politicians to be tweeting at us 24/7. In fact, 7 out of 10 Americans aren't quite sure what Twitter is.

Since word spread that Twitter is the next big thing, politicians have been tweeting to beat the band. More than 20 new tweets from members of Congress, committees, and PACs have appeared since I started writing this. But a recent LinkedIn Research Network/Harris poll found that 69 percent of the general population doesn’t know enough about Twitter to have an opinion on it. A mere 12 percent thinks it was something that is likely to grow and expand into the mainstream -- the same percentage who believe it “is something that mostly young people and the media will use, but it will not move more into the mainstream.” And just 4 percent more than think it was already over.

Besides, there's something bizarre about the expectation that our politicians should be sending us all word of their thoughts, hopes and poorly-spelled dreams at all hours of the day and night. Instead, they should try more traditional activities such as thinking, voting, and keeping things to themselves.

For all the politicians who have been rushing to the network, it’s time to pause and breathe. The vast majority of people don’t expect updates on your every move, from the grand -- “Today I unveiled my plan to prevent drop-outs & keep children in school through personal & public responsibility” (@ArturDavis) -- to the ridiculous -- “Meghan did great on FOX this morning -- hope she is having fun in Sturgis with all the bikers -- be safe!” (@SenJohnMcCain).

So cease and desist with the twitter haikus, Karl Rove. (“Here's a Twitter haiku @tominwindsor Not always easy/to write one hundred forty/characters in rhyme.")

You, too Rep. Keith “Happy B-Day MNcapitolgirl! What's your commitment to human rights?” Ellison (D-Minn.).

For all the pundits who are in a constant vigil for Sarah Palin's next tweet -- the real Sarah Palin, not the one whose tweets consist only of plaintive messages such as "I'm not claiming to, and never have claimed to, be *the* Sarah Palin" -- you can stop the stopwatches.

And for those in Congress or the White House worrying that a lack of presence on social networks puts you out of touch, relax. You're not on Twitter? Most people don't care.

By Alexandra Petri  | August 4, 2009; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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I got on Tweeter because my kids are on it. However, my tweeter is mostly silent. My kids really don't want me on tweeter and lacking any input from them, I'm just not that interesting.

Posted by: kban495 | August 5, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Is fat Meghan riding a bike? Ann Bier

Posted by: jimsbier | August 5, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Twitter, like Facebook, is a tool that reflects heavily on the user: it's all about ME, ME, ME, and everyone should be really interested in whatever I have to say -- such as telling how well my daughter did on Fox and how I hope she is safe in Sturgis. Politics attracts the hopeful and the idealists, but it also attracts narcissists -- Blago, Vitter, Ensign, et al -- and Twitter is perfect for them. Ye shall know them by their tweets!

Posted by: Deric1 | August 5, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh my tweet,tweet. This Twitter thing is so banal that those media types and legislators should be embarrased to use it.

Posted by: annalee759 | August 5, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Amen. There is such a thing as TMI.

Posted by: Toosoonoldtoolatesmart | August 6, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Someday EVERYONE will look back at Twitter and laugh. It won't be that hard... 95% of us are laughing already.

Posted by: steveboyington | August 7, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

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