DAVIS: Social Media Frenzy Muddies Our Politics
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 01:11
We are getting swept away by social media. Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram photos and Tumblr blogs are distorting our sensibilities toward the issues that matter the most.
According to Amanda Hess’ Poynter Institute article “Binders Full of Big Bird,” just one minute after Gov. Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment had been made at the second presidential debate, 23-year-old social media manager Veronica De Souza created a Tumblr account based on the gaffe and accrued 3,000 followers a mere half-hour later. The next day, the Democratic campaign utilized the catchy and comical situation and created endless ads on the subject. The Republicans, unwilling to be the butt of America’s inside joke, countered with social media efforts of their own.
Hess notes: “This is the first presidential election where the endless riffing of the true Internet meme — a repeating, morphing, crowd-sourced play off some minute detail — has taken hold of the campaign conversation and directed it into some weird territory. As Brad Kim of Know Your Meme told the BBC, a meme by definition ‘changes in form or meaning’ with each iteration, mutating further and further from the original point every time it’s shared.”
While we were busy making memes on Photoshop, we missed the point.
In the era of incessant Facebook statuses and Twitter tweets, messages are undeniably misconstrued or wholly missed. Mere seconds after Romney made the infamous “binders full of women” comment, my Twitter feed was flooded with jokes about it. Alas, I admittedly re-tweeted many and made some of my own. But the time spent making jokes distracted much of America from the debate and the fact that an answer from Romney is still up in the air.
Romney’s statement that he had “binders full of women” — which is an exaggeration at best, I might add — when he was picking the cabinet for his governance of Massachusetts is not a response to the looming question of how he will appease women who are facing inequalities in many areas of their lives.
There is a time and a place for amusement, but simply laughing at comments toward the issues that will make or break our country is not going to simplify solving them. Such irreverence will also fail to illuminate the fact that, with less than a week remaining, a certain political party offers no solutions to any of our nation’s problems.
Ultimately, this country will have to look beyond the nonsensical jokes like “binders full of women” and threats to PBS’ Big Bird. We will have to take the time to consider what we will be faced with if the appropriate choice is not made on Election Day.
The issues of women’s rights, healthcare, education and the like go far beyond catch phrases and inapplicable anecdotes. We have a choice between certainty and uncertainty, change and stagnancy. This country has the potential to go back to the policies that turned our economy upside down from 2000 to 2008 and revert to the past systems that simply did not work. Our problems require actual solutions, not just backfiring stories.
Please, don’t get lost this coming Tuesday.
Khadijah Davis is a sophomore in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. She is secretary of Georgetown University Women of Color. THE ETHNICITY OF FEMININITY appears every other Friday.