Democracy Isn’t Funny

In my first blog post, I mentioned Rob Delaney (albeit spelling his name wrong! Oops) to provide an example of a popular voice on Twitter. Despite beginning his career in comedy before Twitter (someone really needs to make BT [before twitter] happen, a-la BC, or BCE), he is most commonly associated with his comedic fame, or success, from his Twitter account.

With 663,111 followers, I would consider Rob Delaney not only popular, but also influential. His tweets average about 1000 favorites, and over 2,000 retweets from his followers, some of which include my strong, latent, and weak ties. In fact, I often see tweets of Delaney’s I may have missed by the grace of someone else’s retweet! At this stage in the game, we all know that this isn’t much of a coincidence, from reading Donath and boyd’s text: Public Displays of Connection. Similar to our friend network offline, our online friend-to-following network signals messages about our interests, values, and hobbies to others. Moreover, I’m never surprised to see that a strong or latent tie I follow on Twitter has retweeted one of Rob Delaney’s politically charged jokes, because I’m aware of both their political affiliation as well as their humor, or taste performance.


The reason we’re here today is for Rob Delaney’s blog post he wrote after the devastating affects of Hurricane Sandy, despite the copious product placement. (@RobDelaney You’re welcome & I’m mostly doing this cause you’re an NYU alum). He begins the post by praising the heroic action shown by nurses and firemen after the power went out, and many babies from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NYU’s hospital need to be safely relocated. He makes the transition to talking about the election by stating how this situation would be greatly inconvenienced by presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan. 

“if we adopted vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, ‘federal spending for Medicaid would be 35 percent lower in 2022 and 49 percent lower in 2030 than currently projected federal spending.’ This is a reduction of $810 billion over ten years. This concerns me, as I suspect incubators aren’t cheap, even if it’s a poor baby you’ll be putting in one.” 

Delaney then goes on to tell readers that all Americans would be effected by the policies of Romney/Ryan, and urges his fans to consider this before they cast their vote.

“I am of the opinion, as a dad, a husband (of a woman with reproductive organs), a tax payer, a voter and an American living inside a human body, that improving the mechanisms for delivering health care in this nation is as high a priority as we will ever have.”

I saw Delaney’s post circulating on both Tumblr and Twitter, and it was reblogged by friends, celebrities, and “tumblr-lebrities” I follow. Also, my roommate brought it up to me after she saw it in her feed, and said something to the effect of “hopefully Rob Delaney just simplified this for people that only think about birth control and abortions when it comes to healthcare.” If my roommate was in CSMT she would be able to employ the term we’ve come to apply to moments like this (“disembedding”), or I could have irritatingly corrected her by telling her I’ve ~already learned this in my cool social media class~, but regardless I never saw Delaney’s post circulating with a hateful message attached in any of my feeds, which leads me to believe that hopefully my roommate’s comment had some truth to it (glass half full!), in addition to both Rob Delaney and I’s followers to be of the same political persuasion, like Donath and boyd have written about.


(note the time and date of this tweet)

Speaking to the “glass half full” notion, I do hope that the offline (comedy) affordance of Rob Delaney’s taste performance, mocking politicians while being very serious about the facts, has also afforded his online performance, to make stigmatized conversations more open, and circulate. 


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