By Nikki Vergakes, Chapter President
All of the election talk is calming down, minus the recount mumblings, but I’m here to bring up more. Come on, what did you think we were going to talk about after the election? More election topics, of course.
Though the discussion I’m offering today is nonpartisan, it is a reflection of what our society is like today. Many people have observed that this past election has been the most wacky, for lack of a better word. The heightened political tensions and options were reinforced through open letters from The Odyssey and Bernie Sanders’s Dank Meme Stash.
My theory is that this election, although it definitely had some of the most notable scandals and stories in election U.S. history, wasn’t the most “wacky,” it was the most audibly commentated on the internet. Two potent ingredients: many millennials being of voting age and the internet, came together to create a concoction of free speech, thought leadership and attempts to sway public opinion.
During each presidential debate, millennials on either side were quickly microblogging, blogging, vlogging, meme-making – you name it about their opinions on the debate. While we were all scrolling through Facebook or Twitter on our phones during lunch, we probably came across tens or hundreds of election memes that either made us laugh or enraged us. Millennials, thanks to their urge to voice their opinion and the internet, became built-in ambassadors for their candidate. Every day, their respective candidate was on the campaign trail. Every minute of everyday, millennials were on the internet fighting for their candidates.
So, what does the nature of this election say about our society?
The power of groups: Social media let us grow more of a mob mentality. We are all connected through the 0’s and 1’s that the internet runs on. When someone said something bad about one candidate, the opposition defended in groups, and vice versa.
We are smarter consumers: We have all been burned by a fake news article or two. Because of this, we have grown to be skeptical media consumers. We now check our sources for bias and falsehoods.
Community journalism turned organizing: A few years ago, community journalism was the trend on microblog and regular blogging sites. Community journalism was definitely a huge part of this election, however, community activism was even more of a theme. People were able to take their causes and run with it. People started charities, movements, petitions, and more.
Social media empowered consumers to take matters into their own hands this election. An empowered consumer is a dangerous consumer to the system, and the system was challenged this election.