Politics · social media · SOF

Social Media is Dead, Long Live Social Media!

English: Social Media Team logo
Social Media Team logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The US political campaigns of 2012 are beginning to peak.  The elections are almost around the corner.  Both campaigns have already begun hurling filth and toxins back and forth.  There’s been one accusation comparing a candidate to Goebbels, which was promptly and properly shouted down by both parties.  To me this is politics as normal, except it’s on a hugely accelerated schedule and being played with seemingly limitless cash supplies.  One billion dollars in campaign funding is the goal of one campaign.  Yes, this is big boy politics, on steroids.

What sets this campaign apart, in my humble opinion, is not the use of social media, but its abuse.  In 2008 the Obama campaign made masterful use of social media. It was hip, it was cool, it was where it was happening.  The 2012 campaign has all the same, with the addition of paid “commenters” on every social media site and almost every online news source. I can tell its a paid commenter when perfectly formed, logical and excruciatingly detailed arguments, even spelled correctly with properly tabbed columns in many cases, appear in any online article comment section on the Washington Post and  almost every other news source I frequent.  This is a sign that these arguments have been previously prepared, more than likely tailored by each person in a document to copy and paste into a comment window.  I know this because when I try to type out a comment, because the site auto-updates, my comment box is suddenly pushed down once, twice, three times or more before I have a chance to write a brief statement and hit the submit button – each time someone enters a comment this happens.  I’m no dummy, but some of these arguments I’m seeing just blow my mind, in their grasp of a highly nuanced issue and details of dates, dollars or who said what, when and where.  In the big picture comment sections have become almost meaningless.  Comment sections of 5,000 comments or more, within an hour of publication, make me lose faith in any of the comments authenticity.

I have a personal Facebook account which I surf through a couple of times a day.  Some folks I know are addicted to Facebook, receiving updates on their smart phone.  Sitting and waiting on someone to comment on what you put in your status update is critical for some people’s peace of mind.  To me it’s practically obsessive-compulsive behavior, but to others it is a natural evolution of communications.  But, more germane to this blog, politics has crept into my Facebook and not in a good way.  I expect to see “I support this guy” or “I heart that guy”, but when I see vicious slash and burn invectives spewed out as truth, it chafes me. I’ve had to ‘un-friend’ a couple of people who are actually close to me because of their blind posting of what I considered extremist views, party agnostic.  It is interesting, however, to see the comments from friends from all over the country, they seem to mirror the red-blue state map.

LinkedIn seems to have survived most of the political uproar, with the exception of the Special Operations community forums to which I belong.  Because the Navy SEAL Team Six supposedly killed bin Laden, there is a uproar over the OPSEC issues, which I have already written about.  Now we have a former SEAL writing a tell-all book which contradicts portions of the official releases from the administration, cause for further angst.  We also have a movie, supposedly made with the assistance of the White House, but political pressure has delayed its release until after the election.

Which reminds me of a joke:  Q: Do you know what burns my butt?  A: A flame about this high…

Social media is beginning to burn my butt.  Too many overly emotional friends are posting highly biased, extremely questionable and sometimes incoherent skewed ‘facts’, and it just stinks.  If you ‘friended’ me on Facebook and post your status, don’t expect me to comment or even notice in a timely fashion.  Perhaps not until after the 2012 election.

5 thoughts on “Social Media is Dead, Long Live Social Media!

  1. Hi Joel,

    Paid commenters is not a new trend. I have seen them around the web (mainly in online newspapers) since 2005 and, like you said, it is easy to spot them. Nevertheless, it is a growing trend and they are stepping into the realm of blogs as well.

    The comment sections in any site have become the new political stage where everything – from political campaigns to disinformation – happens. But I agree, when an article is posted and at the end of an hour you see 5,000 comments….something was staged.

    I don’t have a facebook account and I am not planning to have one. I am not even on Twitter. So, I am pretty safe from the general lunacy going around in social media networks. The only thing I can’t escape is the comment section in newspapers (as part of the job, I must read the comments).

    Great article.

    1. So true about the paid commenters. I recalled seeing them in the 2008 election but not in such overwhelming numbers. What really shocked me was to see them in action when I toured a media research facility, but that’s been a few years now. It just seemed so disingenuous to me, the dedicated altruist and avowed neutralist. I’m sure the place is currently paying for millions of false ‘followers’ on Twitter.

      The only reason I keep my Facebook account is seeing what my friends think is worth sharing and occasionally what they are doing. It gives me the occasional break from just work related reading and is usually very interesting, because many of us have a common bond.

      I’m still having problems mastering Twitter. A former version of Tweetdeck really helped me stay on top of it, they would show alerts of new Tweets from those I follow. Sadly, I haven’t had the time nor the inclination to look around for another similar version… It was really nice to receive a Tweet from something just breaking, but, alas, that option is no longer available.

      You’re probably not missing a thing without a Twitter or Facebook account. Glad you’re reading my blog!

  2. What bugs me the most is when people take something someone said so completely out of context it means something completely different. Whenever I read a “quote” on my Facebook feed that makes someone look bad or stupid, the first thing I do is go look up the full text of what they said. Then I soon realize how out of context the quote was. Bugs the shit out of me.

  3. I have also noticed that the most angry people in the entire world post in the comment sections of online news stories. I mean the most ignorant, angry people you will ever come across. Want to lose a few IQ points? Go read the comment section of any article on CNN.com.

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