Ruling Politicians with an Iron “Twitter-Fist”

In USA on June 12, 2011 by J. Murphy Tagged: , , ,

Courtesy of John Sheriffus

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.

No pressure right? And it doesn’t take much to get the extremes going — just ask the tea party express or   (to name a few).    

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.    


One Response to “Ruling Politicians with an Iron “Twitter-Fist””

  1. It was interesting that you were one of the only ones in class to focus on the role of Twitter and social media in politics. It is a great topic and one that is certainly becoming more common as you see Politicians and their campaign staff flocking to these tools as another way to engage their publics.

    The two outcomes you share in relation to taking the plunge into Twitter seemed quite similar to one another, though. What do you think would be the difference between a politician who “jumps right in” versus one who “methodically eases in.” Do they tweet about different things? Does one tweet more often than other one?

    The conclusion you shared in the post wasn’t quite clear in terms of where you land on this debate. Do you think it is a good idea for politicians to be embracing these tools or not? There are clear examples of politicians using them badly (um, insert Weiner joke here) but did you find any examples of politicans doing it well? What about debating whether you feel that social media may be a better (or worse) tool for campaigning versus actual governing?

    There were many ways to go with this post and topic, but without a bit more clarity on what your main point of view was – this ended up staying more on the surface of the issue without really digging into some of the bigger challenges and issues that it raises.

    One last minor point – it wasn’t really clear what point you were trying to make by inserting the image of Cheers into your post. I’m sure it has relevance, but sometimes you need to be a bit more explicit so that your reader will really get the connection the way you intended it. (3)

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