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How Social Media Has Affected National Communication Methods

Madison Affourtit, Copy Editor

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It’s safe to say that social media has become a communicative juggernaut. Twitter, in particular, has become the third most visited social media site, behind Facebook and Youtube. Twitter continues to increase in popularity, and has become a resource of news for many young Americans. But is it an appropriate medium for politicians and government officials?

Former President Barack Obama was the first president to own a Twitter account, and through it, interact with the general public. He used this app to make announcements, promotions, and to simply send his messages to the people. All were very well worded, well crafted, and uncontroversial.

On the other hand, President Donald Trump seems to put significantly less thought into his tweets. Often volatile and aggressive, Trump doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks of his social media presence. But is his impulsive and genuine attitude refreshing or just plain unprofessional?

New York Times journalist Amanda Hess points out that Trump tweets more like a celebrity than a politician or a businessman. Also, much like celebrities, he is evidently very concerned with his popularity and follower count. On 60 Minutes, he was quoted saying “I think I picked up yesterday 100,000 people.”

Whether you like him or not, it’s clear that Trump doesn’t hold anything back. Based off of this year’s radical election, it’s a strong possibility that the public craves a leader whose unfiltered openness contrasts the buttoned-up, secretive policies of past presidents. Some find him more relatable and some are just tired of politicians in general.

While many appreciate Trump’s honesty and direct connection to the people, his critics are concerned that he seems to underestimate his new power as president. What he says is often construed as official U.S. policy, whether it comes through a formal channel like a news conference or an informal tweet.

His tweets have influenced the stock market and caused other countries to wonder whether long-established U.S. global policy is changing. They wish that Trump would better understand his role as the spokesperson for America before he goes online.

However, Trump likes to argue the advantages of social media, and Twitter in particular. “I’m not saying I love it, but it does get the word out,” he said on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

A huge benefit of Twitter is that it does in fact, get the word out. People are attracted to the immediate sensation of posting on Twitter. Hess says, “Twitter is an impulsive medium. Log in and you’re greeted immediately with a text box asking “What’s happening?’” After sending out a thought, you’re instantly met with likes, retweets and comments.

Some find that this instant gratification serves as an excellent way for government officials to connect intimately and quickly with the public. Especially with younger generations, watching debates and news on tv is becoming less and less important. Indeed, Trump recently announced his Supreme Court nominee on Facebook Live (while both nominees waited in the wings to hear his choice, reality-show style), totally bypassing more established news channels.

While media watchdogs grumbled about both the showmanship and the shift of the announcement from a daytime to primetime, Trump’s supporters pointed out that he probably reached more people by using social media that he would have on a network channel. News sources are evolving, so why shouldn’t our leaders evolve as well?

Clearly there are advantages as well as drawbacks to the use of social media for national communication. Primarily, it falls on the opinions of individuals. But in a new age of technology, it seems that the evolution of national communication is inevitable, and it’s only just beginning.

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How Social Media Has Affected National Communication Methods