As the election night frenzy came to a close, I still found myself with a lot of questions.
Will Obama succeed in uniting this politically divided country?
Is the GOP dead? Will they consider abandoning their conservative ways and move back to centre?
What will become of Mitt’s binders full of women?
When will flag head lady realize she’s a meme?
Will Donald Trump just shut the f*ck up already?
And finally, how on earth did elections take place before Twitter?
If you were on Twitter last night then you are well aware of the madness that ensued as the election results trickled in. Each ‘refresh’ gave way to hundreds of new tweets from voters, celebrities, pundits, bloggers, pollsters, news accounts, and the voices of millions from around the globe. The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election was the world’s first Twitter Election, and it was exhilarating. Millions of people cashed in on the opportunity to share their voter experiences, last-stitch appeals for the candidates, or commentary in general. Others kept a close eye on their timelines and trending topics to access election news literally as it was happening.
Twitter revolutionized this election by providing a unifying source for rapid communication. It has effectively proven itself as a unparalleled resource to anyone wishing to promote a message, as it has manifested in just about every area of interest you can imagine. Whether you’re tuning in to people’s reactions to the latest cast-off from X-Factor or Tim Tebow’s touchdown, you’re doing it as part of a community of individuals who share your interests. Twitter has transformed the way we see the world, allowing people to stay connected with what’s going on, as well as share their own perspective; it has created a global conversation.
Last night’s events produced 31 million election-related tweets. Obama’s famed campaigning mantras, #Forward #FiredUp #FourMoreYears were among the top trending. Twitter solidified its role in politics as an invaluable tool to connect with other politically-keen people, regardless of location, not only last night but throughout all stages of the Presidential race. And if you participated in this ‘global conversation’, you were part of a social event that extended well beyond the borders of America; you were watching and waiting with the rest of the world.
My own timeline produced a constant jumble of pundit humor, statistics, celebrity testimonies, breaking news, and a startling number of election-related tweets coming from those whom I had no idea had the slightest interest in politics (most likely because they don’t). As soon as it was clear Obama had been re-elected, Twitter exploded with a peak of about 327,000 tweets a minute. With all the celebrating and cyber-cheering, it was impossible not to feel like you were part of a nationwide movement, a momentous occasion in American and global history.
The President acknowledged the end of the election with a single tweet that acted as a cathartic change of pace from the angst-ridden campaign season, and resonated heavily among all those who had supported Obama since the very beginning (it also broke the record for most popular tweet in just twenty-two minutes!).
The President’s tweet following his victory thanked Americans for voting for him and alluded to the power of people uniting towards a cause, which in this case, was demonstrated through Twitter:
“We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you. -bo.”
The fact that the President himself took to Twitter before addressing the public in person, is a testament to the role of mainstream media in today’s society, and the power it holds in politics. This tweet marked the end of an era in newscasting, but it also signified the beginning of a new one — one in which politicians are able to connect with voters on a personal level and have their message spread with unequivocal speed. This election proved to be in keeping with this generation’s technological movement, further exemplifying our society’s dependance on technology, and its role in politics.
Though I was overjoyed about Obama’s re-election, I have to admit, by the end of the night I was feeling a little empty. What was I supposed to do now? I had been completely invested in this thing for months, and just like that, it’s over? There were so many good times, and great laughs (at the expense of the Reps of course). The debates alone yielded a plethora of memes, hashtags and parody accounts, like @BigBirdRomney, @InvisibleObama, @LaughingJoeBiden, @RomneysBinders, etc., what would happen to them?
I started to reminiscence over the good ol’ days back in ’08, when hope and change were the overpowering message of Obama’s campaign, what a monumental win that had been. We were all so hopeful, maybe even a little naïve, excited for a new beginning with a fresh approach. But how much had really changed since then? Nostalgia began to creep in and I started to think about how much my own life had changed in the last four years, and how much it will inevitably change in the next four.