I have a confession to make.  Since the 2012 presidential debates I’ve developed a new addiction: monitoring (and interacting on) my social media networks during important political events.

Tonight was the annual State of the Union address.  I’ve always enjoyed this opportunity to hear our president speak to the nation, whether they are republic or democrat.  The rhetoric fascinates me, and it always gives me hope that maybe something progressive will happen.

Here are some of my musings and thoughts from observing tonights speech on twitter and facebook.

  • The speech tonight was over 38,000 characters long.  People have been summarizing and paraphrasing the speech in 140 characters or less.  One major news organization prompted their followers to come up with the best 140 character summary and will show their top ten favorites on their broadcast this evening.
  • I was watching the ‘enhanced version’ of the broadcast as provided by the white house on their website.  This enhanced version provided “the charts, facts, figures, and graphics you need to get the most out of the speech” (according to the white house.  All I could think about was how something like this could be used as a form of modern propaganda.  I’m not implying that the statistics or images were misleading, but the fact that they COULD be.
  • Like many of the past political events covered by the twittersphere, hashtagging was incredibly important.  The White House promoted #SOTU (state of the union) beforehand as the official hashtag of this address.  The speech generated various hashtags throughout; some user-created and others promoted.  When talking about gun control, this image to the right appeared in the enhanced version and was sent out via the official white house social networks.
    • The hashtag #nowisthetime began in january as a call from democrats to start the discussion on gun control.  The fact that it has tied itself into one of the most important political speeches of the year is important.
    • After the speech was over, the official White House pages began pushing people to use the hashtag #JobsNow in order to “tweet your support of my [Barack Obama’s] plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.” A little over an hour after that tweet went out, the hashtag was on the rise in terms of trending, while the hashtag #SOTU continued to dominate the trending topics here in Utah and across the country. The hashtag #GOPresponse also began to trend in the time after the speech, beginning the polarized bickering match between the two parties which seems to always ignore the idea of compromise
  • One interesting trend I found was that my facebook feed was pretty quiet about the state of the union address.  I can’t exactly figure out a reason as to why, except for the fact that the social media tide is shifting away from facebook and the fact that a majority of my facebook friends would fall into the category of “red-blooded republican” and probably were as interested in watching their (democrat) president speak as the elected, republican representatives were to be there.  
  • (Full disclosure, the image above is most definitely taken out of context, and I don’t even know if these guys are republicans or even at the SOTU address.  But this is about how I imagine they all looked.)
So that’s that.  I’m sure that as I go to sleep tonight, I’ll think of more things.  If I do, I’ll post an edit.  What do you think?  What did your social networks show during the speech?

One thought on “The State of the Union of New Media

  1. I think this is fascinating. I am far behind on social media, as anyone who has seen my phone will testify. (When I was in DC last week a federal judge looked at my phone and said, “You still use a flip phone?” That's not just condemnation but something that makes you pause to hear what your sentence will be.) So I don't tweet. My social media comprises email and facebook, with blogs.
    I think you're right that hashtags could easily be abused. Nazi Germany used the radio and pamphlets to persuade the Germans to view Jews as non-human and to suggest that the Germans were winning the war long after it was a lost cause. I think there's a great short story which someone ought to right about some tyrant taking over a country's twitter accounts (or overriding all others) to send agenda-filled messages. Josie and the Pussycats on steroids–and iphones. Everything includes a message, and the government can add words to anyone's tweets. “I love you” becomes, “I love my president more than you.”

    M. Young (aka Dramatic Soprano)


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