Drawing the social media-savvy party lines

I found the debates boring last night. So boring, in fact, that it was turned off a few minutes early to watch television. I know, I know. I couldn’t help but be left with the impression that social media is turning this election into a spectator sport, and one that lives on clever meme-worthy phrases. I heard a collective sigh of relief on Twitter and Facebook when Obama made that horses and bayonets comment. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the third debate, which focused on foreign policy, was the least Tweeted of them all. There’s even a chart tracking it, and the peak of the Tweets-per-minute is a paltry 105,767—of course it occured when Obama sparked the night’s most popular meme. (Look! Memes are still going strong! Maybe Coubs aren’t taking over the world like I thought). Vadim Lavrusik, journalism program manager at Facebook, brought up an astute point about the debates, taking to his Facebook page, natch: “Every meme that has come out of each of the debates has been anti-Romney in its tone (binders full of women, big bird, horses and bayonets),” he wrote last night. “Are Democrats more social media-savvy or more active that these spread so quickly?” It’s an apt consideration, given the fact that I’ve yet to see any clever anti-Obama memes. I did, however, catch someone on Instagram last night, with the hashtag #debate2012, holding up a photo that said VOTE ROMNEY… IT’S A MITZVAH. But that hardly qualifies as a meme. It’s more like vaguely clever Yiddish word play. Vaguely. And it’s pretty popular in Florida. For their part, the Republican Jewish Coalition is responsible for “Obama… OY VEY.” Is that the best you can do? I’d be happy to help you brainstorm other Yiddish phrases. Actually no. Sorry, south Florida. (Side note: I was just there, and it is definitely Mitzvah Romney country).  What’s interesting about Lavrusik’s point is that the ability to craft a meme has a baseline requirement of tech-savvy, but beyond that, it requires a level of wit, speed and agility with turn of phrase. Is Obama just more verbally savvy and able to churn out quick phrases that will catch on? Does he undertand the rapid fire speed of social media better? Is he catering to a younger audience, the people who are reacting instantly? (Literally, Veronica De Souza, creator of the Tumblr Binders Full of Women, did so instantly). This article on CNN, on the contrary, suggests it might be Republicans who are gaining ground with the web. Ideologically, it makes sense for the GOP to harness the Internet: after all, technology “should reduce the size of government,” Rep. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, told CNN. Issa created Project Madison, a crowdsourcing platform allowing citizens to amend legislation by adding or striking language. Impressive stuff there. But I’m not convinced. Regardless of which party wins on social media, what I’d be interested to know is how many were actually watching the debate and not just patiently sitting at their laptops awaiting a Tweet/blog/meme-worthy phrase. But the choice is clear, people. Just look at Beyonce. And then get your own Obama hoop earrings here.


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