The Marriage (or Casual Courtship) of Politics and Social Media
August 21, 2012
…by Genna AlTai
This isn’t your parents’ election!
A completely broad statement in many ways, but thanks to burgeoning social technologies, this election is indeed a special one. Foremost, the meeting of digital media and politics is an important player in this year’s presidential election. This time around, we get to see the real affect that social platforms have on big issues. Is social media seriously impacting the election? Will we judge the merit of a candidate based on their ability to tweet? Using platforms like Facebook is a great way to measure the current approval ratings for both Romney and Obama. Sadly, Romney has yet to create his own Pinterest account. Womp womp.
In order to win an election, you need social validation. After a provocative ad or momentous speech, if Obama or Romney sees a spike in their Twitter followers, that’s a social thumbs up. Same goes for when a candidate makes a blunder. That candidate will feel the wrath in real time! Bottom line, Romney and Obama can’t hide from the public this time around. America is there, glaring at them through their “interactions” tab.
This generation of voters is also big on co-creation. As such, we are seeing a lot of chatter on social networks about the candidates. Memes and infographics have also been a great way to gauge the current political climate. Playing on the friction between Democrats and Republicans, there seems to be a ton of visual content out there with the aim of helping people make informed decisions. Infographics tend to break down complex issues with palatable, ADHD-friendly images.
Sites for the Politically Disinclined
On top of the many hilarious Twitter handles out there, certain sites have come into existence that make the political process a good time. Every 4 years, politicians and campaign managers try to get the “kids” involved with catchy political messages and colorful posters. While the previously mentioned gimmicks might work, sites like “ElectNext” make the voting process clearer and even, dare I say it, fun. A cross between OKCupid and a voting booth, ElectNext helps you choose your ideal candidate through a matching process. First off, you select issues dearest to your heart (i.e. Gun Control, Abortion, Gay Rights). You then answer ten questions on the issues selected. From there, ElectNext finds your “Top Matches”, the candidates you best align with. Making the voting process more fab than drab, sites like ElectNext inform, rather than lecture.
Many doubt the impact emerging technologies have on social welfare, but digital media is definitely urging the public to make educated decisions this election. Whether it’s through a humorous Twitter account, a Facebook page, or a smashing new site, new media acts as both a thermometer and a classroom for politics.