Why Don’t Germans Tweet?


Why are Germans so resistant to using Twitter? My first guess would be that they’re just smarter than the rest of us and have better things to do, but I suppose that’s not it. The Economist proposes a couple of other possibilities:

Some have suggested the German language makes tweeting tricky. Germans like to make a point clear, experts say, though this seems often to call for protracted, convoluted sentences with multiple subordinate clauses that are inimical to microblogging.

….A more likely reason is Germans’ preoccupation with privacy. Many recall the Stasi, communist East Germany’s prying secret police which had at one point recruited or coerced 173,000 people to be its informants. This explains Germans’—and the Merkel government’s—outcry over allegations of America’s widespread electronic snooping.

Hmmm. The former West Germany accounts for about 80 percent of Germany’s population, and there’s no reason that any of them would have any deep-seated fears of Stasi surveillance. So I think the Stasi is in the clear on this one. That leaves only a more general distaste for public yammering. Does that sound right? Are Germans really more tightlipped than other folks? I wouldn’t have guessed that, but maybe.

On the other hand, the structure of the language itself really does seem like it might be a problem. Learning to write in 140-character chunks is tricky enough in English. Still, I’d normally figure that the obvious response to this would be a more vibrant culture of abbreviation. But maybe Germans don’t like abbreviations either. It’s a mystery.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest