It's #MuellerTime

October 30, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

On Friday night, several news organizations began reporting that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller had made his first charges in his investigation into alleged “Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.”

While the charges and those charged were sealed information, it was further reported that someone could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

Though the investigation certainly didn’t disappear, it definitely left people’s minds for a while.

In fact, many were left wondering what was even happening on it.

Then, when something as vague but equally salacious as this gets released, the whole Internet gets into a tizzy.

Try typing #ManafortMonday, #IndictmentEve or #MuellerTime into Twitter.

You’ll get things like this:

It clearly captured people’s minutes.

But rather than delve why President Donald Trump is so attention grabbing, we’d rather take a look at the political hashtag on Twitter and how even something as serious as indictments can be made humorous.

This is a quick analysis of politics on Twitter.

Dive in:

1. The Relief Theory of humour.

Two years ago, The Atlantic posted a great article called “Twitter Jokes and the Philosophical Origins of Humor.”

When it comes to why people photoshopped images of Trump hiding in a makeshift pillow fort this morning and then tweeted it, one of the oldest theories of humour explains everything.

“The second common theory, Relief Theory, assumes that laughter is the necessary physical release of emotion. In support of this idea, Sigmund Freud described humor as the expulsion of surplus energy—often nervousness or anxiety.”

With all news that broke Friday but didn’t actually provide any answers, we’d be willing to bet that people were pretty nervous and anxious this morning. After all, there were a ton of questions that needed answering, namely:

  • Who is being charged?

  • What are the charges?

Considering this severity of this particular political issue, these are pretty anxiety-inducing things to wonder about. Furthermore, Twitter isn’t a platform based on remaining quiet. It’s all about getting information, opinions, content in general, out there. Immediately.

So, when the tension builds up on the social media platform and no one seems to have answers, relief is needed.

It’s called comedic relief for a reason, people.  

2. Instant (and simple) gratification.

When politics spills onto twitter (AKA everyday), it’s a good platform for digesting a bunch of different bite-sized content at a rapid pace.

There really weren’t many other details when it came to Friday’s news before this morning. But politics is just that much more juicy on Twitter because lots of different people can talk about it from several angles, very quickly.

Users are able to recap the background of political event (in this case, the infamous “Dossier files”), see what both sides are saying and react as they wait.

Additionally, with only 140 characters, Twitter’s brevity is pretty good when it comes to complex issues. Yes, you can risk missing out on the details. But, it can also provide just the bullet points version of the issue.

Perfect if you’re behind.

Not to mention, we live in a society where instant gratification is treasured (and maybe even yearned for).

Amazon same-day delivery, Starbucks mobile order, Ritual instant pick up, push-notifications – the list goes on for things that want to make our lives easier by giving us what we want in less time.

Twitter’s speed helps keep the hunger at bay. That’s precisely why more and more hashtags relating to this morning’s news kept popping up. People needed something to look at, watch, read, etc. in the meantime.

Despite a history of things being reported too early before confirmation (which is a reporting issue, not a Twitter issue), Twitter is built in a way that people can quickly track what’s happening in real time.

If it’s as important as big people in Trump’s inner circle being indicted, you can bet it’ll be trending on Twitter.

All people need to do is follow the hashtag.

Ultimately, the way that Twitter gives an instant platform to people from all angles is what makes it such a politically charged-tool.

The question is, will you simply watch or participate?  

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

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