This trend line maps Google searching trends for Iraq and Facebook in Washington State for 2007. If you replace Facebook with Myspace the trend is even more disparate: as interest in Iraq decreased, interest in Facebook increased. Though far higher, the rate of change for Myspace is not noticeable.
You would think that if interest in Iraq is high, sharing that information through Facebook would also be high, especially for college students. But it’s my guess that this means Facebook is generally not where interest about Iraq is being shared. Rather, it appears that Facebooking is often an alternative to sharing new about Iraq. Still, perhaps people are sharing information about the news, just not the occupation in Iraq. After all, there is less news about Iraq and more news about presidential campaigns. The question is what the trade-off is for students between Facebook and anything else: are they trading online-time, or social-time or something else.
Since the summer, Iraq has been a less popular search query. In Washington State, the top three 2007 cities searching for “Iraq” were Olympia, Everett and Tacoma.
Seattle trailed behind at #9, confirming the evidence that we have seen less political activism in Seattle this year, and this decade.
Olympia, our state’s capitol, is booming with political action. Everett (a quiet, industrial city) came as a surprise at #2, since there is generally no activism there, but there appears to be a greater interest in politics than expected.
On the other hand the highest searches for “Facebook” come from Pullman, WA, where WSU is located. That comes as no surprise since WSU is one of the hardest frat-partying universities in the state. There is also hardly any activism there. Pullman’s residents are almost entirely university students, so community dynamics are very different. It’s just too bad politics and frat parties don’t often go together.