During the US presidential election one thing has stood out; the overwhelming use of social media, both by the candidates and by the general public. At the end of 2015 Facebook had an incredible 1.581 billion active users. The presidential election made the top spot on the most talked about thing on Facebook in 2015, the period when the candidates announced they were running for President. In the US alone from 1st January to 1st December 76 million people posted, commented on, liked or shared content related to the election.
Whilst the public are using their creative flair to express their opinions on the matter, the content created is often comedic and more often than not isn’t surrounding the candidates’ mandates. Which should really be on the top of people’s agendas as one of the two candidates is going to run the country! The point is that everyone is able to share their thoughts online using social media to remark upon both Trump and Clinton. And the majority of posts are primarily commenting on appearance, personality and remarks made in speeches. We are no longer reliant on the opinions of journalists and gossip columnists to cast their opinions over us, we instead, can broadcast our feelings – in text, meme, gif or video form on to the internet for the world to see. Social media has, in essence, transformed the world of politics into a spectator sport – as if it no longer holds any real relevance.
Social media is a way for individuals to get involved in the election, but is this boiling down the politics and turning the whole thing into a piece of entertainment? Campaigns are reduced to social media stream. Political messages are now being turned into memes. It is shallow and seems reliant on the personality of the candidates.
And relevance on social media is key in the 21st century. Smartphones have reshaped how we read news, instead of turning to a newspaper the majority of individuals learn about current affairs through their social media newsreels.
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