The New York Times -- among others, I am sure -- got pretty excited by the fact that the 4.5-hour conclusion of "Lost" generated in the neighborhood of 437,613 tweets between 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 a.m. Monday. There was no particular point to the story and no analysis of what all that tweetering means other than this little tidbit from an advertising agency in New York (that measures the popularity of television and marketing campaigns on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook), which noted that tweets about "Lost" peaked during commercials.
This probably gives a little heartburn to the media buyers who bought time on the finale (probably at a premium, since the ratings were expected to be high -- if you can call under 14 million viewers high any more). Moreover, only about 200,000 viewers watched the big ending from start to finish. Most were too busy thumbing their cell phones to look up at the commercials. By contrast:
2.5 billion watched the 1997 funeral of Princess Diana
2 billion watched the Elvis concert: Aloha From Hawaii
715.1 million worldwide watched the FIFA 2006 Football (soccer) World Cup final
600 million worldwide watched the first moon landing in 1969
107 million watched the 1957 live broadcast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella"
125 million watched the 1983 final episode of M.A.S.H
97.5 million watched the 2008 Super Bowl, Patriots vs. Giants.
Oh, but "Lost" was merely a series, not a big event? Well:
"Baywatch" (NBC, then syndicated, USA) became the most widely viewed TV series in the world ever in 1996, with an estimated weekly audience of more than 1.1 billion in 142 countries. Covering every continent bar Antarctica, the show has since been seen in 148 countries and translated into 44 languages.
But we digress. What we were really wondering about was why people would bang out a half a million tweets. Having seen only a few episodes of "Lost," I am hard pressed to think of 500,00 observations that could be made about the plot, the characters or the trajectory of the final episode. According to that agency, folks launched 780,000 tweets during the Oscars, where commenting on dresses, annoying acceptance speeches and maudlin tributes to bygone actors are something of a national sport -- but really, who has that much to say about "Lost?" Moreover, who cares to read a firehose of commentary from men and women on the street?
Most of the time when we ask somebody "How was it?" we are only being nice and don't really register their response (especially if it differs from our own). Perhaps if someone could pre-screen tweets and Facebook posts and isolate and deliver only the truly hysterically funny commentary it might be worth a short peruse. Otherwise, all this is kinda Lost on me.