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Political Candidates and Social Networking

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Nate Rioux

So, I’ve gotten my first smart phone a few months back and while everyday my smart phone tends to make me feel like a dumb person, I still enjoy it. Recently I discovered the mobile app Pandora, and while I knew about the service long before the smartphone I now discovered the joys of listening to a radio station based on my taste in music. Being a broke college student naturally, my station consisting of Deadmau5, Armin Van Buureen, and various other names are streamed alongside a various degree of advertisements. While most of the time I zone out I couldn’t help noticing that one second I am jamming to some fat beats (had to say it) to saying hello to Mitt and Barack.

There is a reason for this long narrative intro because, as many of you may know there has been a cultural shift in the way campaigns are conducted these days.  Gone are the days of whistling while you work and here are the days of listening to political ads on Pandora at work. While this changed has gone mostly unnoticed it is important to understand how this type of mass-media messaging has changed how the press operates today.

Unless you somehow block ads on YouTube, not have a Facebook (I know of one person who doesn’t), or simply just not engage in any form of media entertainment, it’s nearly impossible to avoid seeing messages from various parties in today’s connected world. Politicians are well aware of this. Obama for an example is one of the first presidents to have his own YouTube channel, and for good reasons. Before political rivals would engage in mudslinging over the television, now it’s gone to Facebook and Twitter. But do these tactics actually work?

To some degree it does work. Most critiques suggest that certain methods of mass media advertising act as vehicles of bringing the word out, but not swaying votes. What tends to sway votes is the social discourse between peers via sites such as Facebook or Twitter . The idea is viewpoints can be exchanged more rapidly than ever, causing a dichotomy of connections. It’s as if personal feelings sway voters more than political reasoning, which is not a bad thing. At least I have November 6 to look forward to with the end of the political ads.