Low-cost effective information has taken on a whole new meaning. Wedding invitations are secured via e-mail, you get told something work-related via WhatsApp, and data transfers when you bump an iPhone with another iPhone. It is fun to share with others what they put on public platform, or perhaps, it’s funny to just see what people put on public platform. Even with that knowledge, it startled me to realize that beyond the TMI posts that leave me SMH, even the very foundations of political communication are shifting too.
Response, reach and real-time encourage the rush of communication down a social media stream. The reach of the sociosphere capitalizes on how big-small the world is. It’s always thrilling to read those FLOTUS tweets signed off “–mo;” makes for the feeling of a text signed of from the girl next door (yeah, with the fit triceps, who lives at that white house). Election period often elicits off-the-cuff reactions to keynote addresses with Trevor Noah – fair enough – pondering “if Clint Eastwood talks to chairs, imagine what he does to beds.” Political communication going viral means all information is up to the minute and as real-time as any reaction to it can get. But Rebekah Brown notes an ineptitude of political communication in social media by arguing that there really isn’t much power to be gained from it at all.
The role of digital-age strategist
The cyber world is a cacophony of sounds, a platform for any and all, and too many cooks often spoil the broth. With a primary source of political information able to send a message out but unable to ensure the way in which it is carried through, issues risk being tossed about or matters misconstrued. Cases of national significance neither rouse a real reach nor actual response from citizens beyond one hot topic to be replaced by another.
I’ve read the most frightening South African political views (or lack thereof) under social network Facebook’s ‘About Me’ section. I’ve heard breaking news from my mobile phone faster than any outlet weighing over 500grams. And with memes like this making the rounds, we can assert that technology trumps tradition but at a high price.
One gets the feeling that before a proper sense of ‘power’ can be entrusted to the digital world of social media, citizens who rule it need to hone their better judgment on how to respond to that which constitutes matters of political significance. If we were to continue alA Tarik Nesh-Nesh-esque activist aims to “involve citizens in the political decision process, and to make politicians pay more attention to the popular demand,” the power of change could gain a more lasting, meaningful momentum.