Social Media and Politics

When I first reviewed the books for the semester, I thought the book on Obama and Social Media in Qualman’s book would be a good read. I have never been interested in politics and was confused about the purpose of social media, but this looked like it might be a good introduction.

October 1st, 2013 I realized I need to pay closer attention to politics and who is being elected to represent our country. My husband was upset when Obama was elected in 2008 and down right pissed off when he was reelected in 2012. I was like, how bad can it really be? He can’t really bring down our country. Well, I think he has. To be fair, he didn’t do it by himself, he had help from Democrats and Republicans alike. On October 1st, 2013, my husband woke up for work, after just coming home from a 5 day deployment in South Carolina, got dressed and went to work at the 148th Fighter Wing, here in Duluth, MN. AT 730am i was getting my daughter on the bus and received a call. Because of what was happening in Washington DC, he was being furloughed for at least the next 4 days.

Over the next four days, I started using social media, I paid attention to a few reporters on twitter to help keep me up to date on what was happening. I had CNN and Fox News open on multiple tabs on my work computer. I was listening to the House of Representative and the Senate on-line as speeches were taking place. It got me thinking about how he was elected/re-elected. Reading this chapter helped me understand the importance of social media. This is really the chapter that helped it all sink in.

I found it really interesting the amount of twitter and Facebook followers that Obama had vs McCain and the way Obama used (and apparently) continues to use Social Media. They say Social Media is two way communication, but because I am still a newby with this, I am still using it as a One-Way communication. I get small bits of information given to me that I can read when it arrives. If I have to read an entire article to get the information, I have to take more time away from what I am doing to read the article.

One quote that sticks out to me in this chapter is “The key resides in the ability to identify and internalize issues that help precipitate change. Action earns support, not merely words”. To me this really personifies the two way communication. Social media allows the politicians to indicate what they are working on and for the followers to respond if they are in support or not. This can allow for the politicians to really understand what is concern of the people they represent.

As of this writing, my husband got the call to go back to work on Monday, thank goodness…he was driving me crazy sitting at home.

Posted on October 6, 2013, in Social Media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. So glad your husband was not furloughed for too long – nothing worse than having them home moping around, especially under such stressful circumstances. I am also glad that you are starting to see the value of social media, even if you are still a one-way user. You will never forget the time you actually make a comment back to some of the twitter posts you see! You may not get a response but it will feel invigorating to be able to speak out. The quote you found “Action earns support, not merely words” reminds me of a another great one I heard on the radio the other day “If you have an observation, you have an obligation”. If you sit and think about it for a minute, this comment can go in so many different directions. There is nothing worse than when people have negative comments but no solution to the problem they are commenting on. Or when a friend has great insight to something but is afraid to share it. The relative anonymity (meaning – I have no idea who John Smith in Arizona is) of Social media allows for both sides of this – it is easy to make negative comments but it is also easy to share a great idea.

    • Another thing that bothers me are those “friends” who only post negative comments on Facebook. It amazes me that they are as well as they are when it appears that nothing ever goes their way.

  2. I’m glad to hear that your husband gets to return to work next week. Although not quite the same thing, I know how you’re feeling – my husband was unemployed earlier this year for a short time (about three weeks) as he decided to make a career change without having a job lined up within that new career. All I can say is that he’s lucky to have survived those three weeks…I was near breaking point having him around all the time!

    I wanted to comment about social media’s role in helping President Obama get elected. I wasn’t really sold on this when I read it. I have become a recent believer in the power of social media, but can this one media form, which was still new amongst a lot of groups, or used primarily only by certain demographics, have impacted a national election? After thinking about it further, I think it may be the Pareto Principle at work here. (This is also known as the 80/20 rule.)

    With social media, I think it’s more like 90/10 – meaning that 10% of influencers are responsible for 90% of the information dissemination. To apply this to Obama’s campaign – although a smaller group was using social media at the time, their ability to share that information may have been what made the difference. And they didn’t necessarily have to share it online by re-tweeting or liking it on FB. They could have simply talked about what they saw on social media that day.

    • 3 weeks of my husband at home with no job….not sure we would survive that. I love him, but I talk to him more on his days off when I am at work then when we are at home. (He is usually on the computer and I’m playing on my iPad….go figure). That does remind me of something my mom told me when my husband flirted with the idea of quitting his job (he was not happy and not respected). “You don’t quit one job until you have another lined up.” Thank goodness another job on the base came through. He gets away from the boss that doesn’t like him AND gets to keep doing what he loves (helping people).

  3. My mom said the exact same thing to me! Unfortunately, the husband didn’t listen. It’s all good now, thankfully, but it was a very, um, interesting few weeks there.

  4. evelynmartens13

    In the “I can relate” department, my husband has been home non-stop because of a medical issue of a family member (and I’m very thankful for that), but he is driving me a little nuts…

    I don’t want to delve into politcial partisanship or policy too much, but I do think it’s interesting to consider the question of Internet and SM use, and how it may affect the future of politics. If it’s true that Obama used it more effectively in 2008 and 2012 (and I think multiple sources would support that), then it will be interesting to see if Republicans and other parties (because I don’t think we should think totally in terms of binary opposites) will catch up by 2016.

    I actually think they will because the political reality of Internet engagement is too blatant too ignore. I can’t really find much on that question as I surf, though. Anyone have some sites or insights?

  5. smitht09052013

    I think social media definitely contributed to Barak Obama getting elected, but not exactly in the way Qualman alluded to. He makes it seem like Social media skyrocketed Obama’s popularity. I think it was actually much simpler than that. Young adults are typically not interested in politics, but they are heavy users of social media. By combining the two, a segment of the population who normally doesn’t bother to vote was motivated to actually get out and participate.
    Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome, it is hard to deny that social media has the power to distribute information, bring people together, and potentially motivate them.
    My father-in-law was also furloughed during the government shut down. I don’t know it he has gone back to work yet. Everyone has a opinion about the government shutdown. Personally, I wish we had more cooperation on both sides, but I also can’t condone holding the government hostage to try to prove a point.

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