Social media influences the public, especially in this election, and the online presence of a candidate is now a factor that younger voters consider before casting their vote. Popular social networking sites and mainstream media trends spread quickly and to a large audience, making it an ideal platform for political ridicule overkill.
Sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have a huge influence on the shape of each election. According to Pew Research Institute, 38 percent of social media users promote material about political and social issues that others post. Vulgar debates litter the comment sections of candidates’ interviews on Youtube.
On other sites, memes, gifs and Vines have moved beyond celebrities and on to politicians and their looks. In fact, jokes uploaded to social media accounts about Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s hair make news before his actual speeches do. People focus on the wrong aspect of the election by drawing attention to the appearance and comedy of a candidate. Making a mockery of the profession instead of focusing on real global and national issues weaken the political system.
Popular Twitter accounts like @InvisibleObama and @TomCoburnsBeard use their combined 45,000 followers and online attention to instill personal political beliefs through what is essentially online brainwashing using relatability.
According to Pew Research Institute, 16 percent of social media users reports posts and online conversation changed their views on a political issue. This is an example of how social media drives the political conversation and opinion, rather than hard facts and reliable news sources.
Although social media lends itself to mass feedback and fundraising for the candidates, both of these methods can get out of hand quickly.
During the nearly two year span of presidential campaigning, these websites’ users devote themselves to aggressively spreading their opinion of their favorite candidates, or rather their hatred for their least favorite.
These comments infest the online presence of properly publicized and well-groomed politicians, and in a race as controversial as this one, one comment can change how the public views their officials.
As much as we often see these races as a competition among reality television stars, it is a serious occupation that holds the reputation of the United States in their hands.
Online users and young voters need to remember that as ridiculous as these elections can be, candidates deserve a level of dignity and professionalism from the public.