From yesterday’s online New York Times comes a story titled “As Social Media Swirl Around It, Supreme Court Sticks to Its Analog Ways:”
The Web is ready, too. On Thursday, after the justices once again did not issue rulings in any of the biggest cases, news organizations blared the “news” to their followers. “BREAKING NEWS: No major decisions from Supreme Court today,” the Yahoo News site announced on its Twitter feed. Another Twitter user wryly observed: “Clearly all Supreme Court judges were unpopular kids in high school and, excited by all the attention now, are gonna drag this out.”
A year ago, in the minutes before the court announced its decision on President Obama’s health care law, Twitter users posted more than 13,000 messages a minute about the court. (By comparison, there were 160,000 a minute at the height of the presidential debate in Denver last year.)
And then today, another story headlined “A Panda Escapes From the Zoo, and Social Media Swoop In With the Net:”
To help find Rusty, a raccoon-size mammal with a striped tail and moon-shaped face, the zoo turned to social media, and suddenly half of official Washington broke from Serious Events to tune in to the saga of the runaway panda.
On Twitter and Facebook, the hunt for 11-month-old Rusty, whom the zoo acquired three weeks ago as a partner to a female panda named Shama, exploded in a mix of concern, humor and, this being Washington, the goring of political oxen.
“Rusty the Red Panda eats shoots and leaves,” Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, filed to Twitter.
Doug Stafford, a senior aide to Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, called the escape a cautionary tale. “If we don’t use drones to spy on everyone, the pandas will win,” he wrote.
The zoo announced Rusty’s disappearance to its thousands of Twitter followers in a message at 11:51 a.m, which was retweeted nearly 3,000 times in an hour.
At midday, mentions of “Rusty” on Twitter nearly equaled those of “Obama.” ABC News started a blog with “live coverage” of the search.
“Please help us find Rusty,” the zoo pleaded on Twitter, explaining that he was last seen at 6 p.m. on Sunday and might be nearby “hiding in a tree.”
On its Facebook page, the zoo said keepers were combing the Asia Trail habitat, whereRusty and Shama live between the Japanese giant salamander and the small-clawed otter, since 8 a.m. But in an ominous note, the zoo said it was possible Rusty had been stolen.
Look, I get it. The New York Times has discovered social media, and it is on it. But please, please — stop with the constant stories devoted to people who…tweet. Or who post the occasional snarky Facebook post.
This is not news. This is actually rather mundane, and is best replaced by an article on almost anything else.
And yes, I realize I have just made the problem worse.
This post has not been revised since publication.