We are at an interesting junction in history right now, and it is fascinating to see how social media is shaping the political landscape in this election cycle. Remember, in 2004 Facebook had just launched and was open to college students only, and YouTube didn’t even exist! These two sites alone have totally changed the game and we are now in a new era of information sharing. The old days where politicians got away with the occasional gaffe as long as the media didn’t pick up on it are over. Now, practically every second of their day is recorded and posted almost instantly on YouTube and Twitter for the world to see and hear. And of course on Facebook, the sharing of information and personal beliefs is occurring on a staggering scale. Friends that I would have NEVER had political discussions with are engaging on Facebook. In fact, instead of a 2-way dialog between 2 people, Facebook enables a multi-way dialog with a vast number of people.
Take for instance the status comments. When someone on Facebook posts an observation or political view on Facebook, his or her whole friend network has the potential to see it. If people comment back, not only does the original person receive alerts, but also everyone who comments on it receives an alert as well. All of the sudden, what we think about the process can be expressed and discussed more easily with much larger groups of people. Breaking down the physical and geographic barriers has huge implications, as we are not confined to hearing the prevailing beliefs of our particular corner of the world.
I believe that we are in the midst of a major shift in how people perceive politics. No longer is it just for the older crowd that reads the newspaper and watches 60 Minutes. Now everyone is talking – the question is: who is paying the most attention?
What do YOU think? Is social media going to make a difference in this election?