Social Media as a Political Platform

An article by George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at social media and its effects on the Presidential campaign.

 

Skelton’s article blames social media for Donald Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party. Skelton even says that social media “nurtures short attention spans, the craving for instant gratification and impersonal barbaric behavior” [1].

Skelton’s article comes off as almost ironic. He raises some good points against social media, including statistics on possible social media addiction in teens, but his good points are somewhat undercut by the that he is using social media to complain about social media. Granted, people don’t typically think of news websites as social media, but most online news articles (including this one) have comments enabled, which allow readers to socialize with each other and with the author. Links to other social media at the top of the page even allow readers to share the article to other social media sights. The irony continues when Skelton includes his own twitter handle at the end of the article.

He blames social media for the nomination of a candidate he calls “an insulting, ill-mannered, public policy ignoramus.” If it weren’t for social media, how many people would be able to find and read Skelton’s article? Social media allows his argument against social media to reach a much wider audience in a much shorter time. Many would argue that in a world where electronic media is replacing print, the success of journalists and columnists like Skelton relies on their social media presence.

Why then do so many columnists and journalists seem to condemn social media? There are no shortages of articles and unintentionally ironic social media posts blaming social media for one thing or another. Perhaps it is a matter of demographics; in Skelton’s profile picture on LAtimes.com, he appears to be an older man. His biography, which is linked above his article, states that he has worked in politics for fifty years. He certainly did not grow up with the influence of social media. Compare this to an article by AJ Agrawal, who credits social media with helping make sure “the public stays informed” [2]. Agrawal’s profile picture appears on his article as well, and he is noticeably younger.  Do older people simply look less favorably on social media? Perhaps older users ignore the positives of social media, while younger users fail to acknowledge the potential for harm. This difference relates back to a generational gap when it comes to technology, a gap that successful professional writers must work to bridge.

 

Works Cited

[1] G. Skelton. (2016, May 5). How did Trump become the presumptive nominee? Blame Twitter [Online]. Available: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-donald-trump-phenomenon-20160505-story.html

[2] A.J. Agrawal. (2016, Mar 18). It’s Not All Bad: The Social Good Of Social Media [Online]. Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/03/18/its-not-all-bad-the-social-good-of-social-media/#25702b9523c1

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