Home Opinion OPINION: Democrats Discuss — The price of political posts

OPINION: Democrats Discuss — The price of political posts

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Chloe Ruffennach is the Ohio University College Democrats communications director. She is a junior studying strategic communication. The following article reflects the opinion and views of the author and does not present those of the Ohio University College Democrats. 

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.

 

Social media connects us globally. It is one of the most important and groundbreaking inventions out of the last few decades, partly because it has given us close proximity to our favorite celebrities and politicians. With this development in technology, the closeness we have gained with our leaders has been both a blessing and a curse.

At its best, we can connect directly with our representatives and provide timely, genuine feedback. A great example of how social media can be used effectively in politics is how Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has utilized Instagram Live. She uses this platform to discuss policies and current events with her audience, and she allows them to provide comments and reactions.

We also are able to see legislation and public debate in real-time through social media. With just 280 characters or less, we can become more informed citizens. Social media, specifically Twitter, has allowed us to have debates with opposing viewpoints and engage with our favorite — and least favorite — politicians. It has provided us with a direct line to our representatives and with it we have their attention.

One aspect that can be both a positive and negative is the instant spread of information. This can be seen from both ends of the spectrum, depending on whether or not you are the subject of discussion. When an old picture of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in front of a confederate flag and a picture of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam including a person in blackface and another person wearing Ku Klux Klan robes surfaced online, social media users were able to see it and spread it within mere seconds. 

Social media can be a critical tool when selecting politicians. As voters, we deserve to know that the people we are voting for will act as good representatives of the people and are quality people in general. Social media has therefore given us the power to call our representatives out when they do wrong, both in the past and present.

The positives that come with the possibilities are endless, but the negative aspects are very clear as well. Unfortunately, most people know just where to look when seeking out embarrassing examples of politicians misusing social media. President Donald Trump acts as the perfect representation of the pitfalls that come with unregulated political social media use.

Most Americans are able to recognize that the president’s excessive and unfiltered use of social media is a negative aspect of his presidency. I would go one step further and say that his Twitter feed is a poor representation of our country. His late-night tweets and Twitter rants present our leadership as sporadic and unhinged. The impact of these posts is massive. They are not merely the punchline for late-night talk show hosts — these posts are seen internationally and can affect how our leadership is viewed across the globe.

We have seen awkward tweets and posts from politicians that make us question their authority. The proximity that social media allows has resulted in several online feuds that make our leadership look juvenile. This type of behavior can make leaders who demand respect look as though they are acting the way that high schoolers do in the face of classroom drama. But the issues they argue about so freely are issues that affect the lives of Americans. Poor social media use cheapens their positions and makes us look immature by default.

I am not proposing regulating politicians’ social media use. I recognize that their freedom of speech is just as important as those of private citizens. But I think it is important to recognize the pitfalls as well as the benefits of politics on social media. 

The rise of social media is convenient and frankly incredible, but it can also be embarrassing and misleading. I implore our leaders to think before they tweet. Their misuse of social media platforms can have an international effect, as it affects other world leaders’ views of America. 

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