The final tweets of NASA's Voyager 2 Twitter account before the government shut down on October 1. The account has since been suspended.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The roiling debate over the U.S. government
shutdown is extending to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as fed-up
Americans turn to social media to register their disgust with federal
lawmakers for shutting down the government.
Those posting pulled no punches, calling members of Congress
"immature," ''stupid" and "idiots" who need to "grow up." There were a
few attaboys, too, by self-described red-state conservatives who cheered
on the Republican leadership's unwavering stance against President
Barack Obama's health care plan, even if it meant suddenly pulling the
paychecks of some 800,000 federal workers and threatening popular
But mostly, tweeters said they couldn't understand why a compromise between the two sides seemed so elusive.
"#DearCongress, You should not be getting paid. In fact, you all
should be fired!" tweeted Bruce Swedal, a 46-year-old Denver real estate
agent who says he is worried about what the shutdown might do to home
sales if federally backed loans dry up.
The public outcry playing out on social media sites this week is a
new twist. During the last shutdown of government operations, in 1995,
angry Americans would have had to look up their congressman's address
and sit down and write an old-fashioned letter or email. But with the
advent of Twitter, popular hashtags like #governmentshutdown and the
NBC's "Today" show's #DearCongress let voters log their complaints to
all 532 members of Congress at once (there are three vacancies in the
House) - provided they stay within the allotted 140 characters or less.
Voters also weighed in on the more humorous side of things, offering
pick-up lines that federal workers could use in bars, some of which were
advertising cheap drink specials throughout the day to those
"The library is closing, mind if I check you out instead?" one person offered with the hashtag #ShutdownPickupLines.
Added another tweeter: "It's not like we have to go to work tomorrow."
For their part, lawmakers used Facebook and Twitter to reiterate
long-held talking points, further angering dissenting voters.
Republicans said Obama's health care program would be too catastrophic
to allow, while Democrats accused Republicans of sending the government
into a free fall to appease a small minority.
House Speaker John Boehner's post urging Senate Democrats to back down earned more than 13,000 "likes" on Facebook and an additional
13,000-plus comments from voters, either hailing the Ohio Republican as a
hero or calling him everything from a "crybaby" to a "terrorist." House
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's Facebook post blaming Republicans for
the shutdown earned about 2,200 "likes" and 1,400 posts.
Meanwhile, federal programs used Twitter to announce that they would
no longer be responding to tweets or other social media posts until the
shutdown ends. Even the first lady, Michelle Obama, said her own
personal tweets would be limited.
One Twitter account, which for two years has been providing detailed
updates on NASA's Voyager 2 program, offered this less-than-comforting post before going dark: "Due to government shutdown, we will not be
posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out
yourselves." The Twitter account, which could not be confirmed as run by
NASA, was later suspended (Voyager 1's Twitter account, which offered no such ominous farewell, is still active but has not tweeted since the shutdown).
Swedal, the Denver real estate agent, said in a telephone interview
that he doesn't think his tweets will make a difference. In the end, he
says, politicians are likely to do whatever they want.
"But at least I feel better," he said.