In just a few days, millions of Americans will turn out to vote a president into office for the next four years. While most of us might be tired of the constant political talk, this campaign cycle has differed in a good way from past presidential races.
The 2012 election saw the rise and pervasiveness of social media use (particularly Twitter) among voters. While social media is nothing new to the political sphere, the 2012 election is the first time that it has had a major impact on the political landscape.
A Pew study published last week said that more than 40 percent of Americans participate in politics via social media avenues. The Guardian reported that 10.3 million tweets were sent during the first presidential debate alone. President Obama has 31 million “likes” on his Facebook page, while Mitt Romney has more than 10 million.
But should we view the rise of social media in politics as a good thing? Although social media might not always be the most reliable source of information, it does provide a welcome break from the conventional nature of past election coverage. Now Americans have a new way to voice their opinions, tweeting or posting their thoughts before, during and after political events.
The media’s biased election coverage can even be sidestepped on Twitter, as users choose which outlets they want to follow. This was particularly exemplified during the recent presidential debates, as Americans let each other know who they thought was winning and what the big issues were.
In the past, we often waited on news organizations for commentary on who performed well at political conventions and debates. But now we can follow trends on Twitter and instantly be informed about what’s happening.
While there will always be those on Twitter and Facebook who have different political views than ours, social media’s integration with politics offers a new perspective on important issues that we have never had before.