March 30, 2016
With the rise in social media over the last decade and even the last four years since the last presidential election, has come new ways for candidates to break into our lives and for us to influence each other. Social media has become an added feature of our lives and could be used as a way to grab at our attention to break through our desensitized lives that are filled with massive amounts of media. How often do we just scroll through our news feeds filled with cat videos, beach pictures, and the occasional life update? What grabs attention is the controversy and personal aspect of politics that can appear on social media.
According to Pew Research Center, 66% of social media users have used social media for political activities. In media environments filled with controversy and violence, it is to be expected that conflicts arise on social media sites among “friends” from the posting or sharing of political thoughts and ideas. Social media is a tool used to reconnect, hang out, and get to know people better thus enabling people to be friends with their inner circle of friends to their acquaintances and coworkers. With the large diverse groups of friends that one can have it is not surprising that according to Pew Research Center, 73% of a users friends on average either “only sometimes” or “never agree”.
In addition to the rise in social media use among everyday people, political candidates are using this new social world. Trump has used Twitter to bash on his political competition and create controversy through the medium. He has over four million followers on Twitter to catch his remarks and comments. This new addition of wide social media usage marks the third time that technology has changed the game of politics with the prior times being the result of radio and television.
Social media allows political candidates to be more transparent and for the public to become better informed about events and become engaged with candidates on a more personal level. Obama recently encouraged Federal agencies to use social media to inform and engage the public.
With the rise of social media, the political environment is changing. Political figures are using these new forms to reach new audiences and break through the clutter of other media people are surrounded by.