Older Americans a bunch of tweets, too

Even though this column is about new technology, it is probably reaching a more mature audience.

Young woman checking text message.A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 12- to 29-year-olds are not really into blogs anymore. According to an Associated Press report (yes, I still adhere to mainstream media—how dinosaur of me!), one in 10 online adults—or 30 million of us—write blogs, a number consistent since 2005. But while more than 25 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds blogged four years ago, only 14 percent do so now.

That means us old gummers have taken over the blogging world while tweeners, teeners and twenty-somethings are tweeting and MyFacing.

Other forms of online communications are not just for the young, however. More than a third of U.S. senators and representatives now tweet. According to the Los Angeles Times:

“It turns out that more than 200 of 535 members have jumped on the Twitter train. Representatives do it more than senators; Republicans more than Democrats. Wednesday is their favorite day to tweet, and their favorite subject to tweet about is a trip to the district. The California delegation has the most tweeters—15 of 55 members.”

The king of congressional tweets is hardly a tweener either. The Times crowned 73-year-old John McCain of Arizona with that title. The septuagenarian has 1.7 million followers. Not bad for someone who told the dinosaur media two years ago that he neither tweets, nor blogs, nor texts, nor e-mails. Of course, MSM suspects McCain’s staff actually tweets for him.Man looking at computer with stack of newspapers on a chair.

Still, McCain is an old dog and proof that an old dog can learn new tricks or tweets. So can young dogs. In fact, canines can post tweets on their own Twitter page via Mattel’s Puppy Tweets. The high-tech toy is attached to a dog’s collar and when the canine barks or moves, the tag sends a tweet. The tweets are preprogrammed and the dog may not actually be chasing a squirrel, but how is that different from McCain’s staff tweeting for him?

Even those who tweet on their own may not be sending real tweets. Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee did not really direct his followers to a site selling colon-cleansing pills with the tweet: “hi. this works. i feel better and look great.”

Wamp was hacked, a growing problem in cyberspace. In one of the largest hack jobs ever, more than 75,000 computers at nearly 2,500 companies in 196 counties were hacked from 2008 until it was discovered earlier this year. In the last three months of 2009, 1,057,000 computers in the United States were infected by hacker viruses, spyware and other malicious codes.

Google claims it was the victim of a widespread attack emanating from China. It even enlisted the National Security Agency to analyze the attack and help it protect itself from future attacks.

In such a dog-eat-dog cyber world, security is expensive and costs are passed onto the consumer. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the average American family to spend $2,000 this year on cable TV, Internet connections, video games, and cellphones that text, tweet and update Facebook—all of which have to be protected from what I’m assuming are hackers who believe blogs have gone the way of floppy disks.

Ah, for the days of that 5-cent daily newspaper and the $25-a-month phone bill, when the biggest worries were paper cuts, ink-smudged fingers and perhaps lightning coursing through the phone line. Certainly my mature readers remember those days.


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeff Adams on February 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Great blog, Tom, you old dinosaur. I agree; I doubt McCain is tweeting. I bet those are from an intern. Besides, blogs are too slow. But I’m wondering, at Halloween will the kids settle for tweets or will the want twix? BTW, I remember 10-cent sodas, 5-cent candy bars, party lines, 45s and 78s. I don’t even know how to text.

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    • Posted by Tom Pfeifer on February 28, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      I learned how to text when Hurricane Katrina hit and a friend who was from New Orleans but living in Colorado told me texting was the only way she could communicate with her family. But I’ve heard quite a few good party lines coming out of New Orleans, Jeff.

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