Four years ago -- on Election Day in the United States, November 8, 2008 -- Twitter was elated when the company saw a total of 1.8 million tweets related to the event of the day.
Fast-forward four years:
The first so-called U.S. Presidential Debate 2012 -- between Obama and Romney -- showed 10 million Tweets during the 90-minute broadcast.
And, in what is a commentary of some sort -- you judge what kind -- finally something/someone broke Justin Bieber's Tweet record to create the most shared image (to date) in social media ever... until the next one.
Lest you stop reading -- no, this isn't yet another analysis of the U.S. election or the effect of social media on such events -- although I will use both as references.
I am more interested in what drove people to vote as they did, what really influenced them and, at the end of the day, what really drives us all.
Because if it's only a Twitter feed -- humankind is in deep....
In fact, I don't even think that voting itself is a measure of much either -- I have written about this before -- remember Hitler was elected in an open democratic election, and in today's world I can go on and on.
What is important -- in fact, in my opinion, the only important factor and the one that becomes the biggest benefit of what I have dubbed Digital Exponential -- is the overwhelmingly powerful effect that offline, primal/DNA human behavior has on the world when combined with the enhanced sharing power of digital -- it makes us all superheroes, gives us all special power; if we had masks and capes they'd make a movie...
So the question becomes, what is it that people in the United States voted for or against -- as the case may be? Or to broaden the analogy to another so-called high bar in social moments --what drove the people in Tahrir Square those few years ago -- when their hopes and the hopes of the world were so high?
And if you think it was Twitter or Facebook or "Likes" or tweets -- you are not even close -- in my opinion.
Simply put, it was values. Values -- a concept as old as we are -- and a struggle that is equally old. And, of course, values beg the question of universality -- are there values that connect us as people? Are values strictly local, and your values and mine will never align? Is there a standard of values that link us more than they divide us?
I have always believed the answer is yes, and have written about it before. I will let you decide if you think that global values exist -- in what I call Generation World.
So while I can write pages and pages about tweets and re-tweets, Facebook pages and "Likes" and "Dislikes," the amount of money spent on local TV broadcasts (imagine that) and the incredibly obscene amount of money spent in general -- I will let you explore those on your own.
Instead, I will share with you what I consider to my proof point -- the words of Joel Benenson -- Obama's lead pollster:
- "The president's victory was a triumph of vision, not of demographics" -- this from the guy reading the audience and helping to set the strategy.
- "That is why, despite the credit given to Mr. Romney for 'understanding' the economy... Mr. Obama was always significantly more trusted on qualities that matter to working Americans" -- technical doesn't count as much as values.
- "Americans made a choice to side with a set of values and principles" -- in other words, not spreadsheets.
Bottom line -- as you look around the world, ask yourselves -- what is driving people... really? What makes us align or oppose? Are there core values that unite us, or is it really all local, and my values might be so abhorrent to you that you would kill me (and maybe yourself) to stop them? PS:If you die for them or kill for them are they really values?
Time magazine, in covering the Egyptian revolution -- an event that was used by analysts to drive the value of social media companies one year ago -- wrote:
"Technology mattered, but this was not a technological revolution. Social networks did not cause these movements, but they kept them alive and connected. Technology allowed us to watch, and it spread the virus of protest, but this was not a wired revolution; it was a human one, of hearts and minds, the oldest technology of all."
So the onus is on us -- the challenge is ours. Listen:
"Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny."
So is our destiny merely tweeting? You tell me....
What do you think?
P.S. -- Some good reading on the election:
Rob Norman: The Morning After
CNN: Why Romney Lost
Time magazine: How Chicago's Data-Driven Campaign Triumphed
Financial Times: US Election Offers Advertising Lessons
CNN: The Billion Dollar Election: Who Got Paid?