Election Day is finally here. Not only does this mean that we will be deciding who will be the next President of the United States, it also means that the Internet madness of this seemingly endless campaign will finally come to an end! Sort of at least. Hopefully.
Social media has been a major tool in this election. I use the word “tool” here intentionally, as it has been “a device or implement used to carry out a particular function.” Social media has been used methodically by both candidates during this campaign season. As social media has grown in popularity, it has become necessary for politicians to use the various platforms to engage voters, particularly millennials. Social media has been beneficial for politicians. It’s an easy and fast way for them to get their opinions and thoughts on something out to the world; it’s also a great place for them to promote the issues that they find particularly important.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have used social media to discuss major political issues that will inform voters decisions. They’ve used the platforms to discuss their views on topics such as student loan debt, funding for Planned Parenthood, immigration, and much more.
They’ve also used the platforms to tear one another down. Trump has essentially used his Twitter account to tear down anyone who disagrees with him. Scrolling through his Twitter page is like flipping through hate mail “Disgraced New York Times,” “Crooked Hillary,” “dishonest media,” and more fill the page. If you haven’t read them already, you can scroll through his page or Google them at your leisure; there are too many horrible things he has Tweeted to repeat them all here. I am, however, including the photo and Tweet below because it’s disheartening and appalling to me that a candidate for President of the United States encouraged people to go search for a sex tape. I think this specific tweet epitomized how careless his use of social media has been. His Twitter account has gotten him in a lot of trouble during his campaign, sparking countless headlines. His use of social media was so prevalent (and negative) that his staff has reportedly banned him from using his Twitter account in the final days of the campaign.
Social media has also been a place for all of us to turn to during this campaign, to both vent our frustrations and to campaign on behalf of the candidate we support. Many of you reading this who have a social media account likely know how a majority of your online friends are voting. When people feel strongly, they actively support the candidate of their choice, especially online. This election has been so dividing and has forced people to “pick a side” in a way that is unique to this election and not previous ones. This is not party politics as usual.
Pew Research has shown that social media has been a decisive factor in voters rethinking their views on issues. The impact caused by the use of social media during this campaign season is loud and clear. It’s where a lot of people are going to to see the opinions of the candidates on issues that matter to them and it’s also where people are seeing the opinions of people they respect (their friends, celebrities, other politicians, etc.).
Today will likely be an incredibly active day on social media. We won’t just be watching the election pan out on TV, we will be taking our opinions to the web and looking for the opinions of others.
So, what about you, #IS6621? Have you been following the candidates on social media? Have you been actively supporting a campaign online? How has social media impacted your perception of the candidates and the election?