Social media switches students on to politics

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by Marites Woodbry

To this date there has never been an election that has been this involved in social media and has given life to this many Internet memes. Both President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have Facebook pages, Twitter and Tumblr accounts (http://barackobama.tumblr.com/ http://mittromney.tumblr.com/) and have sometimes even embraced a meme when a good one comes along. This is a collection of some of the most notable ones and what Michigan State University students think of this new phenomenon.

Texts from Hillary Clinton first took off with the above photo on April 5th 2012.

Its creators, Buzzfeed senior editor Stacy Lambe and political organization Public Campaign director Adam Smith, retired the website just days later on April 11, but its images continue to grace the Internet. The creators decided to retire after Clinton herself submitted an image for the website and then extended an invite to Smith and Lambe to meet her and text in real life.

Fired Big Bird or Mitt Romney Hates Big Bird surfaced during the U.S. presidential debate on October 3rd when Romney spoke of a proposed budget cut for Public Broadcasting Service despite his ‘love for Big Bird’. Additionally, CNN reported the official seller of licensed Big Bird costumes Disguise, Inc. sold out its entire inventory shortly after the debate.

Binders Full of Women surfaced during the October 16th presidential debate when Romney uttered the words ‘…they brought me binders full of women.’ in a response to a question about gender equality in the workplace. The Internet took off with full speed with responses and was also a popular Halloween costume this year. http://bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com/

You Didn’t Build That sprang up after Obama said “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” during a speech in Virginia in mid-July.

Rom Com 2012 photoshops Romney into classic romantic comedy movie posters. http://romcom2012.tumblr.com/

Fear Rick’s Vests became popular Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum became notorious for wearing sweater vests. Santorum supporters even put together a video collection of his different sweater vests calling it ‘Sleeves Slow Me Down’.

Hey girl, it’s Paul Ryan originated in late April of this year http://heygirlitspaulryan.tumblr.com/and is a spin-off of the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme. http://feministryangosling.tumblr.com/

Eastwooding http://www.buzzfeed.com/scott/eastwooding began after Clint Eastwood’s infamous speech to an empty chair during the Republican National Convention. Parody Twitter account @InvisbleObama was created and currently has almost 68 thousand followers. Shortly after President Obama’s official Twitter account responded with a photo tweet saying ‘This seat’s taken.’.

What do MSU students think about all the hype?

MSU substance abuse psychology senior Jill Passanante said that she feels that political memes can be used to reach more people, but also have the potential to harm the younger population of voters.

“It makes politics less of a serious issue when really it’s the standing point of the foundation of America,” Passanante said. “They’re good in the sense that they add humor in such an overwhelmingly tense time of the year, and more people are exposed to it, but unless they dig deeper it doesn’t do us any good. A politician’s viewpoints cannot be summed up in five words and a picture.”

MSU materials science engineering senior Julie Motz said she thinks political memes can be harmful because they focus on a negative opinion or out of context quote.

“In the case of an uneducated or uninterested voter, political memes or comics may be the only source of information,” Motz said. “There is no way to get the ‘big picture’ of candidates or proposals simply from poking fun at everything.”

MSU advertising junior Sam Riddle said that he thinks political memes are beneficial and expose politics to those who might not have been exposed otherwise.

“I think it adds a funny spin to something that’s taken way too seriously,” Riddle said.

“I don’t think they would actually sway anyone’s views. I think it’s a great way to entice others, especially younger voters, and get them interested in political issues they might not have known or cared about before it was all over their social network feeds.”

Riddle added “A lot of people can’t stand the original idea of politics. If there’s a spin on it, it’s much more bearable.”

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