Even though “draining the swamp” became the theme to the presidential race of 2016, it was technology that connected the dots. It’s almost as if technology drove the campaigns to their final outcomes, fueled by the millions upon millions of people who followed every waking minute of the year-long event using Twitter or Facebook.
But it has been more than 10 years that Twitter, with more than 25 offices around the world, began to make a 140-character message called a “tweet” a most enduring legacy. In fact, ordinary people are able to address a nation with little effort and with little marketing ability. Celebrities can update their fans about their lives and their opinions on all relevant topics. Government can make public announcements to the masses. Politicians can share their own views and positions without fanfare. Even the President can sprinkle the Internet with opinion and commentary way after the day is through.
The more practical use for Twitter has been as a communication system for breaking news to the public. Before the news becomes news, someone tweets the storyline and leaves everyone wanting more (because a tweet can only hold 140 characters). Although the system wasn’t designed for high performance information and details, it has been used with ongoing media events like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Westgate Shopping Mall attack, including the 2016 presidential race of the United States.
It’s true to say that social media is now taken seriously. Once thought of as a self-righteous, self-centered, narcissistic tool, social media (including Facebook) is beginning to formulate into a valid voice, a pivotal connection to a large following of hungry consumers in desperate need of raw, readable information. People want information like they crave love, nicotine and alcohol—because, for some reason or another, it’s bold, tasteful and fine. There’s plenty of information out there to satisfy the millions of voices projecting a million more new ideas each night—and that doesn’t even include the final two candidates of the election. Even so, let’s not forget how many tweets and Facebook postings they left for you to review (forever and ever) after the debates and elections are finished. What’s interesting about social media postings is that they never go away. When someone takes a position and voices it, that passage lives on in cyberland forever.
And let’s not forget this fact, either: old routines are dying off fast due to social media’s consistent growth and popularity in society. For example, reading a news article or watching a rerun of the debate the day after the event doesn’t work anymore; that’s not fast enough; that’s not instant enough. We live in a world of instant gratification, instant replay, instant coffee, instant fame, instant rewards, and instant messaging. Then it should come as no surprise how technology plays a key role in the presidential race, causing the exit polls to be way off their mark. Think about this: the number of monthly active users on Twitter is way over 317 million (as of mid-2016). That’s 317 million votes. That’s 317 million active accounts. That’s power; and that’s a determining factor if a presidential race ends up being close or not—similar to the one that just concluded.
Strangely enough, in a twist of fate and good luck, three states determined the final outcome: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—with 112,158 voters giving us a new president. You see, social media does influence people on every level possible—even the underlying working-class, blue-collar worker who desires a change of heart in the pool of political correctness and digital connectedness. The world didn’t consider their vote.
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