|(Thanks to The Dutiee Blog)|
It really came into its own during the Iranian Green Revolution of 2009, where the Iranian government blocked mobile phone feeds and other avenues of access to try and restrict what got out of the country. But they couldn't block Twitter without blocking the Internet totally, and Twitter became the place to get a lot of information out about the protests, the violence, the government crack-down, and all of that. I think a lot of people gained a new respect for Twitter after that.
There have been other examples of Twitter becoming prominent in the news cycle, of course. Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
However, it was only recently where an example came up that showed Twitter to be not only an outlet for the news, but also as a driving force behind some of it. In this case, if you don't follow Twitter, or the blogs that referenced it, you probably didn't hear about it.
I'm not going to get into a political debate in this post, but the example does involve politics. The Obama campaign has been making hay with a Mitt Romney family trip many years ago where the carrier containing the family dog was tied to the roof of the car. The campaign has noticed that whenever this story is brought up, Romney's negative ratings go up. It's pure gold, baby!
But Jim Treacher from the Daily Caller actually read The Audacity of Hope, one of Obama's memoirs, and noticed a line in there that struck him. It was about a time as a child when Obama was living with his stepfather in Indonesia.
"With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)."Yes, you read that right. Obama ate dog meat. And didn't seem to mind it.
As soon as Treacher tweeted this, Twitter went on a rampage. Numerous conservative pundits and just regular people on Twitter started joking about it. The hashtag "#ObamaEatsDogs" became so prominent over the next few days that it actually ended up making the ABC news web site among other news outlets. Many "traditional" news outlets ignored it, of course (it didn't make any of the televised news shows, for example. Just perhaps their web sites, like ABC's). If you get your news from the New York Times and that's it, you've still never heard of this (until now, I guess, since you're reading my post).
It reached the point where some Obama staffers were actually fighting this out on Twitter with the other side, trying to keep the Romney meme alive while still trying to dismiss the Obama meme.
It reached so much prominence that Jimmy Kimmel made some jokes about it at the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend. In fact, Obama himself made three jokes about it in his presentation there.
Can you believe that? Obama himself was making jokes about something that started on Twitter. There were some in the audience, who don't follow Twitter or many online blogs, who only get their news from "regular" news outlets, who turned to their compatriots and asked "why is the President joking about eating dogs?" They'd never heard of this before.
I don't bring this up to make political hay. You know I'm a conservative. Many of you out there are liberals. You know we disagree on a lot politically.
However, the reason I'm bringing this up is because this meme that rose to such prominence that even the President himself is joking about it began on Twitter and stayed online for the most part. In fact, many news outlets that covered the Correspondents Dinner didn't even mention the dog jokes.
Would you have thought something like that was possible even just a few years ago? For a story that reaches the national consciousness to have begun on Twitter?
Even more of a reason to at least know about Twitter, even if you don't have the inclination or the time to actually use it much.
Because it too can become a driving force behind the news.