2020 plus 02: Demographics

Posted: 2 January 2020 in 2020 plus

When I started the ‘2017 minus‘ countdown, three years ago, I drafted a plan; one post for every day of the 75 day countdown. And I pretty much kept to it, give or take.

I did the same for the recent ‘2020 minus‘ and… well, ‘events, dear boy, events’. (As MacMillan apparently didn’t say.)

A few posts I had planned at various points never made it into the run. Some were never written because I was ill when I planned to write them, and they were time specific, as in to note a specific day or date.

Some weren’t written simply because while they were great ideas at the time I wrote the plan… when I came to write the posts themselves, the words just weren’t there.

Two got dropped because I ran out of something to say on each subject after about 150 words. Always bugs me when that happens; it’s never the subject’s fault, and always mine as a writer. So yeah, it bugs the hell out of me when that happens.

And some were never written merely because I couldn’t remember what the hell the abbreviation in the plan referred to. For example, I have no idea at all what ‘FQS/DC/Parl” might refer to. And if you can work out what on earth Greg Rucka has to do with the 3 of hearts and batteries, well, let me know, eh? (Seriously, the reference I have is “GregR/3♥︎/batt?“)

And then there were the election posts that I planned and never wrote; mainly, I’ll be honest, because I was too angry.

And unlike Twitter, where I can write a tweet, expressing all my anger, upset and venom onto the screen, and then hit ‘save to draft’, only to delete it later… anything I wrote on the blog that showed that kind of blatant and obvious anger got deleted rather than saved.

For one thing, I lost enough friends during that period that I wasn’t actively going around looking to lose the rest.

And for another, as I once wrote, anger breeds certainty, a certainty however that’s rarely justified:

Anger makes it easy to be certain. Anger makes it too easy to be certain. Certain that you’re in the right, for you would not be this angry if you were wrong, would you? Your fury is righteous, for you are a rational, sensible person, so it’s got to be the thing that made you angry that’s ‘wrong’.

But one thing I never wrote about did leave a small but genuine sense of regret: demographies.

I’ve always been fascinated by the assumption by many that people who support a party, or a politician, or even a policy, are a homogenous bunch, or that various populations within the larger group represent that larger group (even allowing for the specific distinctions that mark them out as a smaller population).

For example, if you separate out Labour voters into age bands, then you can automatically exclude age as a ‘similar’ thing.

But without splitting into age bands, then the difference becomes clear.

Average age of Tory party members? Last time I checked: 57. Average age of Conservative party voter? Well under 57…

Average age of Labour Party member? (This surprised me, though it shouldn’t have.) Last time I checked: 52, five years younger than the Tories, but still higher than the average Labour voter.

And as MPs of all parties have noted many times over the years, sometimes despairingly, the average party activist is someone prepared to go out on a cold rainy night once a month to a drafty hall to talk about party policy, and then to exhort others to do the same, and then to take the time to actively campaign for their local candidate.

Now how typical of the voters do you think that is?

It’s as daft as assuming people who go to Star Trek conventions are representative of those who enjoy watching the shows.

But after seeing someone doing something on Twitter, asking their followers whether they think they’re to the left, politically, to the right, or about the same as the person asking, I did the same.

Now usually, when I ask my followers something, then I’m either surprised or unsurprised by the answers. It’s pretty binary. Rarely am I entirely flummoxed by the answers.

Here are three from 2017, 2018 and two from 2019.

I don’t know what to make of them. I honestly don’t.

I mean, I long ago gave up being surprised at what people think my politics are. I’ve been accused on Twitter of being a right wing Tory, of being a socialist, of being a typical Lib Dem, and – my personal favourite, I have to admit, “a ranting leftie”.

But having done the above, I was quite curious about the demographics of those who – mad fools that they are, choose to follow my witterings online.

I won’t do the whole fifteen questions I asked, but here were some highlights with the odd comment from me. Obviously the % is of just those who responded, an entirely self-selecting sample.

Over 90% are younger than me; no surprise there. Most however are only a few years’ younger than me.

Almost half have been following me for ‘god knows, ages and ages…’. Again, makes sense. I rarely pick up loads of followers in one go. Hasn’t happened for ages; I’m more of the ‘net followers outweigh net unfollowers by a couple a day…’ type.

This one surprised me: roughly a third of those following me… follow under 500 others. Huh. I always assume I’m the only one who doesn’t follow 000s of accounts.

Most people followed me because of something I’d tweeted; either a RT or a Quote-tweet. It’s the latter I always feel sorry for; someone RTs or QTs me and people like it enough to take a look at the feed, follow me… and are then subjected to the rest of my feed. Yes. Feel sorry for them, folks. I do.

Why do they stuck around? Well, 68% have been using the same personal email address for more than 20 years, 78% have been using the same mobile phone number for more than 10 years. And ⅓ have been using the same twitter handle for more than than a decade, with half using it for more than than 5.

These are not people who easily decide to change something once they’ve decided they like it.

Most live in the UK; no surprise there at all. I was surprised that 6% are outside UK/EU/US/Canada. Just under half live in a city. I’m surprised at that as well.

I asked an entirely unfair question at the end.

In an emergency, absent social media (so… no email, Twitter DMs etc)… if you NEEDED to contact me, would you know how to?

I offered the following four choices:

a) Yes, I have Budgie’s phone/address
b) My friend has Budgie’s details
c) I would ask Budgie’s friends…
d) No, I wouldn’t have a clue

The final option got 67% of the vote.

Yeah, that one astonished me, I’ll be honest. And still does.
Something else, tomorrow.

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