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Standard Deviations: Social media makes Trump-Clinton the fight of the century

By Mark Saal - | Nov 6, 2016

With only a couple of shopping days left until the 2016 presidential election, you might want to avoid the last-minute crowds and just go ahead and pick up your underground bomb shelter now.

If we’re to believe the incessant political carping on our Facebook feed, life as we know it will cease to exist following Tuesday’s election. That’s because we’ll have voted into office either a narcissistic, power-hungry, pathological liar, or a narcissistic, power-hungry, pathological liar with bad hair.

Either way, it’s not looking good for the home team, folks.

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Clearly, this has been the ugliest presidential campaign on record. And while it’s easy — not to mention fun — to point the finger at the candidates themselves, mostly I blame social media. I doubt our friends and neighbors were any less annoying about their political beliefs back in the day, but it sure was a lot easier to avoid their daily barrage of opinions.

I’ve got a few hundred Facebook friends, and I do believe I’ve heard from every single one of them — repeatedly — as to why I’m an idiot if I vote for a particular candidate.

One of the problems with social media is we’ve been put through so much crap in the run-up to the election that most of us have become desensitized to caring whether civilization even continues after this. Frankly, after what we’ve gone through the past six months, doomsday predictions simply don’t hold the terror they once did.

If anything, I’m actually looking forward to our post-nuclear-holocaust dystopian future, if for no other reason than a little peace and quiet. No electrical grid in the apocalyptic landscape-to-come? Inconvenient, to be sure. But on the other hand: No electricity, no Facebook.

Speaking of which, a couple of interesting statistics emerge from an examination of the social media accounts of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

For example, while each candidate has about 2.8 million Instagram followers, Trump is outpacing Clinton on Twitter — with 12.9 million followers to her 10.2 million. Even more pronounced, Clinton’s Facebook page has just 7.9 million “likes,” while Trump’s is closing in on 12 million.

Ah, but the most telling statistic? As of Friday afternoon, Clinton was following 758 people on Twitter. Trump, on the other hand, follows a grand total of just 41 people. Forty. One. Souls.

From that small number, it’s hard not to believe that maybe Donald J. Trump isn’t much interested in anyone who isn’t Donald J. Trump.

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Mercifully, just when I thought my friends’ political Facebook posts were about to drive me to completely around the bend, the World Series came along. Which meant that, while people were still saying Hillary belonged in prison and Donald should be on some sort of sex-offender registry, they were also saying cool stuff about Rajai Davis and Ben Zobrist.

Facebook’s “Snark Takes a Holiday” reached its peak on Wednesday evening, when the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians to break a century-old drought and be crowned World Series champions in a thrilling Game 7 finale.

RELATED: Believe it! Cubs win classic Game 7 to win first World Series since 1908

It was an exciting series, an exciting game, and the best part was that — for the better part of one blissful evening — my Facebook feed consisted of posts that had absolutely nothing to do with partisan politics.

And then it happened. Late that night, shortly after the Chicago Cubs won the Series, a Facebook friend posted: “The Cubs had to wait only 108 years. How long have women waited?” The post ended with the hashtag “#imwithher”.

Really? Turning one of the most anticipated baseball moments of the century into a crummy political commercial?

Bring on Armageddon. Please.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.


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