It is that time of year again. As presidential candidates name their running partners and campaign advertising becomes harsher by the minute, we also begrudgingly welcome the onslaught of political coverage through social media.
Whether the culprits are my hometown friends on Facebook, my undergrad friends on Instagram or celebrities I follow on Twitter, I feel as if everyone has an opinion. It may not necessarily be educated, but it is certainly an opinion.
Quoting President Obama, one friend on Facebook has said, “’If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, someone else did that for you.’ Good luck getting re-elected dumb (expletive).” Another Facebook friend commenting on the GOP convention noted, “I can’t tell if this is a national convention or a church.” This is just the tip of the iceberg, which may explain my daily struggle – Should I even keep a Facebook account?
While these social media users may not have much influence over other people, they are still expressing their opinions, loudly. On Twitter, many celebrities are doing the same thing, but with more effectiveness. Even the candidates are jumping in, as President Obama helped prove the usefulness of social media in the 2008 election. In a blog posted on nytimes.com, Claire Cain Miller likened Obama’s successful use of the internet to President John F. Kennedy’s successful use of television. The blog from 2008 goes on to explain how politicians will never be able to speak off the record again because they are being so closely watched and listened to. She says the “10,000 citizen journalists” are catching every minute detail, good or bad.
The part of this which frightens me is the number of opinions which are said without any outside knowledge, other than merely seeing a headline somewhere. Today alone, I saw a headline which looked very, very bad for Mitt Romney: “ABC News Hot Mic: Romneys ‘Happy to Have a Party with Black People Drowning.’” Intrigued and mostly disturbed, I clicked on it, only to find an alleged ABC producer made a very racist remark on air, when he thought it wasn’t being broadcast, which mocked Romney. http://news.yahoo.com/abc-news-hot-mic-romneys-happy-party-black-154623693.html
We have become a public of headline readers, turned political “experts.” These “experts” must spew their opinions at any given chance. In a world where information is just a few key strokes away, the entire experience maddens me. Not surprisingly, people want their information and fast. The entirety of the story does not matter, just so long as the appearance of knowledge can be projected and the purpose most people have for being opinionated about politics is then conveyed. As information has become more of a status symbol, the actual empowerment one gains from knowledge seems to be lost on many people.
So, as I stare at the “unfriend” button on Facebook, trying to decide if I am thoroughly annoyed with these other users, I try take another breath of fresh air, without gulping in some of the salty water these users are filling my “electronic life” with. I hope to stay afloat with actual knowledge, not drowning in others’ status-fulfilling (lack of) information.
Abad-Santos, Alaxander. “ABC News Hot Mic: “Romne’ys Happy to Have a Party with Black People Drowning’.” Yahoo! News. 29 Aug 2012: 1. Web. 26 Sep. 2012.<http://news.yahoo.com/abc-news-Cain Miller, Claire. “How Obama’s Internet Campaign Changed Politics.” Bits. The New York Times Company, 07 Nov 2008. Web. Web. 26 Sep. 2012.