The Online Off and the Offline On

Were one to follow Texas campaigns for the last few weeks, it would seem Ken Paxton, RedState’s choice for Texas Attorney General, was destined to lose. The stars had aligned against him because he made a small mistake his opponent had seized on. The Texas establishment had rallied to his opponent. Paxton was doomed. Twitter said so. Facebook said so. Email said so.


Congratulations to Ken Paxton, who is now the GOP’s nominee for Attorney General in Texas. He won last night.

After the shootings in California, hashtags sprung up to focus not on mental health, but on misogynist men. Like many o the organized gay mafia attacks on Twitter to harass, silence, and intimidate those who disagree, a bubble of conversation filtered online and off. Newspaper articles were written about hashtags.

But very little of the sound and fury online ever filters offline. Certainly it can happen. Certainly many a reporter has been forced to cover a story they’d have never even heard of but for an organized effort online to get their attention.

For those who spend a lot of time online — particularly of the political consultant class — it is worth remembering that much of what happens online stays online and never translates into the real world. Organized campaigns on twitter, Facebook, etc. might move stories, but in and of themselves rarely move needles.


For those who rarely spend time online, however, it is worth also noting that a sustained online effort can help shape the news you read, see, and hear. There is a disconnect, but that does not mean connections are not possible. Just don’t judge how big a story really is from twitter.



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