I was having a tough time keeping up with my Twitter feed during Sunday’s Grammy Awards, and it turns out it was for good reason: The telecast was the most-tweeted event in history, according to BlueFin Labs, which measures such things. The Grammys netted 13 million social media comments, topping the 12.2 million from the Super Bowl the week prior and absolutely dwarfing the 546,000 comments made during the Grammys the year prior.
Why the explosion in tweets? There were several reasons. Between the death of Whitney Houston, the triumph of Adele, the return of Chris Brown and the Nicki Minaj disaster, there was plenty to talk about during the telecast, which with nearly 40 million viewers was the highest rated Grammy telecast since Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” sweep in 1984. The chatter about Chris Brown, in particular, was so loud (and negatively slanted) that the entertainer’s police report from his 2009 altercation with Rihanna went viral all over again, and is still the the top story on MTV.com.
But most of all, it proves people are tweeting and commenting more than ever during big cultural events. It’s no surprise that the two most-commented events have taken place this month, in back-to-back weeks; the Oscars will likely experience a huge social media response as well. Even though our culture has become fragmented in the digital era, there’s still a longing for those shared events we can all experience together, whether its an awards show, a Big Game or a TV series finale. The elusive “watercooler conversation” — did anyone ever really have those? — is now taking place live, in real time, and the watercooler is the internet.