Twitter is the new political weapon of choice


Photo credit: Kristina Judy

Rachel Reyes

Social media seems to have become the preeminent medium shaping political agendas across the nation today.

These messages are being rapidly exchanged 140 characters at a time. The ability for one single tweet to influence open-ended political discussions and drive media coverage has become substantial.

Times are changing and while social media was not the center of the country’s attention decades ago, politicians are using a new campaign tactic and appealing to the future generations by being where they are found most frequently: online. Today, 65 percent of the Americans are on social media, according to Pew Research Center.

During this previous presidential election, Twitter interactions between each candidate became trending topics immediately after several negative tweets were sent out. CBS News wrote an article on the most popular tweets by President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016 that highlighted moments such as Clinton tweeting to Trump saying “delete your account” and the commenting on Clinton’s email controversy by Trump.

Should politicians and presidential candidates stay off Twitter? Absolutely not. Twitter accounts are free for anyone to use, even government officials.

President Trump has taken the use of Twitter to the next level. With his blunt, hostile and unnecessary direct comments to his 24.8 million followers, his Twitter has officially become a part of the daily news cycle, according to NPR.

On the other hand, Marshall McLuhan devised the term “the medium is the message,” making a point that media devices such as smartphones would be the agent of social change rather than the actual message itself.

By accepting and adopting these technologies, we are creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. Sure, there is fake news all over the internet and headlines that are misleading and can be perceived the wrong way, but it gets people thinking, involved and engaged. How many movements started from a hashtag?

Most people wouldn’t have understood or even joined in the women’s march a month ago if there wasn’t a political side of Twitter promoting activism. Twitter has helped spark social change, hashtag activism and given new meaning to McLuhan’s “the medium is the message.” Aside from this, many Twitter users benefit from these politicians on Twitter because it keeps the uninformed informed, even when some don’t want to.

Politics shape our lives and the system we live in. Twitter seems to have become the new political weapon for many government officials and #IAmAllForIt.

Rachel Reyes can be reached at [email protected] or @rachhreyes on Twitter.