Twitter Revolt: Online Anger at Deficit Standoff
Blogger's tweet over budget stalemate catches on.
July 26, 2011 — -- "So I was angry," said Jeff Jarvis, a prominent blogger who went on Twitter after watching Congress's failure to make a deal on the budget deficit. He vented a little, and perhaps helped start something.
"I had no grand design on a revolution," he insisted. "I just wanted to get that off my chest. That's what Twitter is for: offloading chests. Some people responded and retweeted, which pushed me to keep going, suggesting a chant: 'F*** YOU WASHINGTON.'"
Word spread, as one person after another "retweeted" Jarvis' message on Saturday evening. By midnight, according the traffic-tracking website Trendistic, slightly over one tenth of a percent of all the tweets on Twitter included the phrase "#F***YouWashington."
Considering that Twitter says people now send 200 million tweets a day, "that would be on the order of 20,000 tweets per hour," said Diego Basch, the CEO of Trendistic's parent company, IndexTank. Another tracking site, Topsy, estimated that the phrase was used at least 66,000 times after Jarvis' original message.
That's just one small measure of the frustration many people feel over Washington's budget battles -- and how quickly it can boil over online. You can see it on Twitter, parts of Facebook and its new competition, Google+, on comments to the White House and Capitol Hill, and on countless blogs and news sites.
"You are so wrong," wrote a woman on President Obama's Facebook page. "Right now I know I am facing homelessness if I can not get my check on the 3rd. I am seriously considering not voting at all, ever again. We always get hurt. I thought you were different."
"Stop the bickering and do what's right for the country," wrote a man a few minutes later. "That goes for Mr. Boehner, too."
House Speaker John Boehner's Facebook page also got its share of ire: "Just use common sense and close those loopholes with ending the Bush tax cuts and most of our answer is right there!" wrote a man from North Carolina.
Harsh Language Touches a Nerve
The popularity of Jarvis's vent, harsh words and all, illustrated the strong opinions on the budget showdown. His first tweet on Saturday evening: "Hey, Washington a**holes, it's our country, our economy, our money. Stop f***ing with it."
His language was vivid, but he'd said what he had to say.
"All I did was spout off after a couple of glasses of nice pinot," said Jarvis in an interview with ABC News. "After that it was out of my control. It has a life of its own now."