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Opinion |  Cultural Elites Need to Look Beyond Their Noses

In 2020, I wrote about how Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was focused on topics that mattered a lot to conservatives on Twitter but made very little sense to people who spend most of their time offline and disconnected from the daily swirl of online politics. It is striking how unrepresentative of American life Twitter is: According to Pew surveys, 22 percent of Americans use Twitter, but the top 10 percent of users create 80 percent of the platform’s content. And Twitter users tend to be younger, more highly educated and wealthier than the average American.

Rather than discussing working-class issues or rising unemployment, Trump yelled about the need to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that states that websites like Twitter and Facebook and even your best friend’s recipe blog cannot be held liable for what someone who comments or posts on it says.

Now, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act matters a great deal to me. (I think it’s great!) But I’m a writer and podcaster for The New York Times who spends a great deal of time on Twitter. So of course I’m interested. I’m also concerned (or, more accurately, confused) by Senator Josh Hawley’s demand late last month that Twitter be broken up.

But what gets said on Twitter or about Twitter should generate far less media and political attention than, say, recent purges of Black Democratic officials from election boards in several Georgia counties. And what most people need from a politician is probably not a laser focus on the inner workings of tech regulations but solutions to real problems like low-paying jobs, rising housing costs and the continuing opioid epidemic.

What matters to the most powerful Americans is important (and you can watch all the prestige television you want). But what matters to most Americans, period, matters too. What they watch, what they read and, crucially, why and how they vote — or, for almost 80 million Americans, why they didn’t in 2020. This has more significance than what happens at colleges where people like me went or what we watch on television.

Unless, of course, it’s sports.

Please send your thoughts to Coaston-newsletter@nytimes.com.

Jane Coaston is the host of Opinion’s podcast, “The Argument.” Previously, she reported on conservative politics, the GOP, and the rise of the right. She also co-hosted the podcast “The Weeds.”@janecoaston

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