Today in basic Twitter lessons: the ratio.
A ratio is what happens when a tweet’s endorsements — as measured in retweets and likes — are vastly outnumbered by criticism in the form of replies.
Also, a ratio is what happens when Sarah Palin tries to mock someone else for botching an interview.
Palin — or, rather, the social media brand Palin most manifests as, after careers as governor of Alaska, Republican vice-presidential candidate, and reality-TV star — was making fun of an interview clip with Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress this month.
Belittling the far-left, 29-year-old congresswoman-elect has lately become something of a popular sport on the right-wing Internet. In an online video interview, she had spoken of Democratic efforts to win all “three chambers of Congress” in 2020 — then immediately corrected herself to say, “all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate and the House,” which was still not quite right.
“YIKES,” wrote Palin, or whoever controls her social media accounts, and almost instantly earned herself a pretty bad 2-to-1 Twitter ratio.
If it’s not immediately clear why, it’s easy to demonstrate:
For every @JacynthiaWood who liked the tweet and joined Palin’s mockery (“she obviously failed #civics101”), there was a @JamesPMorrison and a @tyler_westrich — both of whom reminded Palin that on the campaign trail in 2008, she once inaccurately told a child that the vice president is “in charge of the United States Senate” and then years later spoke of an imaginary Department of Law at the White House.
A LaurieNunyaBznass, who recalled that Palin used the nonexistent word “refudiate” so often that the Oxford American Dictionary finally gave in and added it; a @lisaandwyatt, who remembered when Palin mangled the famous history of Paul Revere into a bizarre fable in which the Revolutionary War hero “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free;” the comedian Dana Goldberg, whose reply earned more likes than Palin’s original tweet by pointing out she once claimed the Soviet Union collapsed because of 1950s-era space program debt; and @blumspew, who asked Palin, “Can you still see Russia from your house?” referring to a “Saturday Night Live” parody of her first national interview in 2008, when ABC News host Charlie Gibson asked about her foreign policy insights, and she replied: “You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska!”
So it went, the ratio — holding fast as the raw quantity of tweets ballooned on either side of a dividing line.
By Wednesday morning, some 6,100 retweets and likes from self-described Trump nationalists and #patriot #rednecks were eclipsed by more than 16,000 replies.
And if any of those messages were supportive of Palin, they were hard to spot amid the reminders of the rally where she spoke of “our neighboring country of Afghanistan;” and the disastrous interview in which she was asked which magazines and newspapers she read, and she replied “all of them”; and her suggestions that the Constitution is based on the Ten Commandments and the “Founding Fathers” recited the Pledge of Allegiance (which was written after they were dead); and of leaked assertions from Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign that his running mate’s repeated public embarrassments sank his chances of winning the White House. And, down near the bottom of the reply thread, @SybilleAbed’s favorite example: the radio interview Palin gave two years after she lost the election, when she spoke of “our North Korean allies.”
And it’s true, to be fair, that Palin corrected herself seconds later in that last interview. But so did Ocasio-Cortez.
As the ratio consumed Palin’s critical tweet, Ocasio-Cortez clapped back.
By early Wednesday, the congresswoman’s tweet had more than 132,000 retweets and likes and roughly 6,600 replies.