Tuesday, August 4, 2015

To Tweet or not to Tweet

News today seems to be seen first as twitter feeds, like Scott Walker finding himself punked in New Hampshire.  In New Jersey, Chris Christie thought he could steal a little bit of the limelight away from American Pharoah, presenting a trophy to the team behind the Triple Crown winner, but all he ended up doing was making a horse's ass of himself.  Even the all-powerful Trump got lampooned at Harvard.  Not the way you want to present yourself in the handful of days left before the big debate in  Cleveland.

Twitter has become a convenient medium to project your message and reach millions of viewers within minutes.  It can work for you or against you, so you have to be careful with appearances.  You never know when you may just end up the brunt of a joke.  Apparently, things move so fast on the campaign trail that candidates don't have time to check both sides of a placard, which turned out to be the case with Walker, who made himself look like a paid stooge for the Koch brothers.

The social networking service has been factoring into elections from the moment it was created in 2006.  Twiiter factored heavily into the 2012 elections and figures to be the dominant medium in 2016.  It works perfectly with political sound bites as well as instant reactions.  Who wants to read someone's blog or even elaborate joke when all you want is the punchline.

These instant impressions can be very hard to overcome.  Rick Perry's glasses even have their own Twitter page.  What was supposed to give Rick a brand new look has become the subject of much derision, including his GOP opponents, tweeting it in of course.  It's free, it's quick, it's wicked and painful enough that some persons are filing lawsuits in response.  What is seen as libel by some, is seen as the ultimate expression of free speech by others.

Obviously, you have to be quick on your feet, and the Donald seems to give as good as he gets. Yes, Donald Trump's Hair also has its own twitter page.  The key is to go with the flow.  Tweets and re-tweets become a form of dialog, albeit usually trash-talking like this exchange from a couple years back between Trump and Danny Zuker.

There have been some epic twitter rants like a recent one where Jim Carrey went after Governor Jerry Brown over mandatory vaccinations.  Brown didn't bother to defend himself, others did for him, forcing Jim to have to explain himself more than he would have liked to.

You can add hashtags and links to bolster your points, but that's not what twitter is really about.  You have 140 characters to make your point, so if you want to elaborate you have to string a number of tweets together, which can prove costly from your cellphone.  Of course, if you're Donald Trump or Jim Carrey it doesn't really matter.

The bigger problem is that you can't retract what you just said.  Once it's out there, it's there to stay.  In 2013, McCain sounded off on Iranian President Ahmadinejad wanting to be the first Iranian in space, apparently not worried in the least about international protocol.  Good thing we weren't pursuing nuclear non-proliferation talks with Iran at the time.

It is very likely that he or she that masters Twitter will most likely emerge as the big winner in this presidential election.  Best to pay a young staff to direct the messages, as one has to be quick with the follow-ups.  Team Hillary has taken to Twitter to attack Republicans, with a seemingly endless stream of responses.

This will no doubt be the most tweeted election yet.  For what little it matters, Fox probably could have saved a whole bunch of time and anguish by just letting all 17 GOP candidates tweet their responses to the questions and tweet each other back in response, but I suppose it wouldn't be as dramatic as a live telecast.

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