For some reason or another, politicians can’t seem to resist being anxiously lead into the lions den that is the global Twittersphere. It seems harmless on the surface right? It isn’t a documented 140 character online diary entry….right? No one will ever find out what I wrote X days/weeks/months ago…right?
Well, given the partisan gridlock in Washington, it is quite the contrary. People are paying attention to politicians more than ever online and it is almost like they are humming the Elvis tune “A Little Less Conversation” in the process.
Wander into the twitter realm for a politician is like entering into a chat room where everyone knows your name, and everything else about you. But they desperate want to know more. So what does one do to respond to such fanfare?
Two possible outcomes can result from taking the twitter plunge:
1) Methodically easing into tweeting, all the while developing a strong, healthy and active following and spreading their agenda and views for the next term and beyond.
2) Jumping right into tweeting and conversing with followers like they have known them for years — that is until they get too bold or provocative with a statement, which in turn leads down a slippery slope filled with reactionary, impulsive decisions that can potentially suck the air out of their twitter voice and following before they know what hit them.
The New York Times said it best: “More than two centuries and many scandals later, Twitter has replaced pamphlets as the medium of the moment.” And they are right! We live in a world where it is fascinating to watch our political leaders wiggle out of and around incendiary barbs that may have graced their lips or nimble fingers, all while weathering the burden of fed-up political extremes. It’s merely a ribbing to keep them honest and when you examine the current perception of politicians in Washington from “outside the beltway” this should not be a shock to anyone.
After all, pandering to a political base or enraging opponents to gain leverage is part of the game, but sometimes it trumps the real reason people get elected – representing the constituency that put you in office. Will our politicians learn that before it gets the best of them? Only time will tell.