Social Media in the Political Arena

I, like several others in this class, recently created a twitter account. I found much amusement in following various comedians, as well as influential figures in film and television. It is an odd, and seemingly illusory, personal connection to hear almost directly from those people. I felt like I had learned a new trick when communicating with classmates and friends who I began to follow. I certainly don’t regret creating an account, as it is a unique form of social media, one that I won’t be leaving behind any time soon.

I also follow politics often, especially during election season. It’s not so much that I am political. I feel no need to share/ express my views to anyone I don’t know (or even those I do…except for my father, who I will always play Devil’s advocate with, disagreeing even when I’m on his side of the issue. It’s simply more fun that way). It’s more like following sports teams to me. I’ve never been particularly interested in watching sports, but, for some reason beyond my understanding, politics is entertaining.

I mentioned that I don’t regret creating a twitter account, and I will continue to use it after this class. Something I do regret, however, is following the political candidates.

Following Obama was the worst decision I’ve made yet in the twitter sphere (one word? Hyphen?). Never has there been a more active and worthless twitter account. Every hour the Obama campaign floods my page with tweets (or it did until I stopped following “him), almost all of them devoid of any substance or links.

For anyone watching the debates and the aftermath, discussion at some point, regardless of the station you were tuned into, turned to twitter and what was “buzzing” there. After Romney’s “binder full of women” statement, that was all I saw from friends and celebrities alike. I didn’t mind that, as some of the points were rather humorous. It was fun and not serious.

Romney’s page is much better. Regardless of political affiliation, I appreciate that his campaign does not saturate twitter (even if his tweets were of a similar substance to Obama’s).

I believe that the limitation of characters, in addition to the fascination with “gaffs”, makes the twitter world feel like, to take a term from television, a vast wasteland. When watching these debates, sure it’s kind of interesting to see what Karl Rove has to say about the outcome, but the random tweets from individuals that litter CNN’s page do not need to be spread on television.

The horse race mentality takes over social media, as well. Not just a race for the candidates but for the average person racing to weigh in on whom they think is the winner. It reminds me of the Alien vs. Predator tagline: Whoever wins…we lose.

Granted, these are all negatives. Social Media has had positive impacts in the political realm…but not necessarily in America. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media

In this instance, I believe that social media, Twitter in particular, is such a flood of needless information that it is doing more harm than good. We need to hear and value experts, not the average individual.

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