Did Trump Have the Upper Hand?

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In general, the internet has allowed our world to grow in terms of global communication tremendously.  Of all the social media platforms available today, Twitter is one of the most popular, especially amongst political candidates.  “In 2016, 44% of U.S. adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, outpacing both local and national print newspapers” (Pew Research Center, 2016).  In comparison to previous election years, this is a pretty significant change in the way our world is choosing to receive its information. For most “people, especially in the United States, social media is the easiest and most convenient way to receive news.  Social media seems to be a means of connecting in the hopes of receiving real information.  While this is not to indicate that all tweets and posts are inaccurate, the growth of social media is beginning to treat users more like an ‘audience’ instead of an inclusive group with opinions that are being addressed appropriately.  According to Shirky,  “growth in group size alone is enough to turn a community into an audience, social software, no matter what its design, will never be able to create a group that is both large and densely interconnected” (Shirky, 2002, p. 1).  We see this playing out in the world of Twitter.  So many people turn to this particular platform to receive any and all information, making it a very powerful source to users. Unfortunately, the more popular these types of social media sites become, the less personal they will feel to its users.  

Hamby addresses the issue of the lack of experience that political reporters now possess. It seems that more and more political candidates are turning to social media to make their mark on the public.  “More and more, the mainstream political press is being cut out of the election process, raising questions about the value of being a reporter” (Hamby, 2013, p. 5).  Interestingly enough, we saw this to be true in the most recent election.  While Clinton, Sanders, and Trump all had active social media accounts, Trumps were the most successful with the public.  While both Clinton and Sanders focused more on linking their followers back to their campaign pages, Trump focused moreso on connecting his followers to the news media online.  Essentially, he relied less on reporters and his campaign team and strived to direct his followers to material that was already floating around in the media that was available to him.  In the end, this gave Trump the upper hand in terms of retweets, comments, follows, and Facebook reactions. Could it be that the way Trump utilized social media was one of the main reasons he won the election?

Lastly, I want to address the way Trump handled the public in terms of social media. McGonigal states that “The economy of engagement is also an economy of feelings, in which positive emotions—pride, curiosity, love, and feeling smart—are the ultimate reward for participation” (2008, p. 16).  Trump played on these “feelings” as McGonigal states.  Over time, our world has been brainwashed to believe that money is the root of all motivation.  Of all people for this statement to fall on, it would be Donald Trump.  However, he proved us wrong in terms of the election. Of all the candidates, he was the one to engage with the public most.  He took the time (or maybe people he hired took the time, which would be ironic) to answer the public and post what they were saying.  He cared more about the people following him than his campaign.  Do you feel like his engagement with the public was sincere?  Did you notice that Trump seemed to be the most prominent presidential candidate on Twitter during election season?  

 

Candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public. (2016, July 18th). Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/candidates-differ-in-their-use-of-social-media-to-connect-with-the-public/

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McLuhan: A Man of the Past and Present

ipad-820272_1280.jpgWhile some of McLuhan’s theories were seen as controversial, they still hold relevance in today’s modern society.  Since the 1960’s our world has expanded vastly in terms of technology.  During the time that McLuhan published “Understanding Media,” the world was fascinated with their television sets, telephones, and radios.  Since that time, our world has progressed largely, specifically in the world of the internet.  McLuhan covers so much fascinating material in his book and in his interview, that it can be difficult to encapsulate which theories can relate most closely to our media-filled world today.  

One particular phrase that comes to mind when referencing Marshall McLuhan is “The medium in the message.”  When it comes to any sort of service, I automatically focus on just that, paying little attention to where the service actually comes from. McLuhan (1994) explains that, “because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action” (p. 9).  A good example would be the internet. Since the internet has been around for over twenty years, we oftentimes forget that this platform is indeed the ‘medium’ to many of the things we search on a daily basis.  Without a second thought, we search Facebook on the internet, peruse the next tattoo we want to get on Pinterest, and look at the latest memes of Donald Trump.  The internet has vastly changed the speed in which we can receive information; something we continue to take for granted since we grew up in the age of the internet.  McLuhan further explains this theory by using the examples of an electric light, major companies like General Electric, and speech writing.  He states “For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs” (McLuhan, 1994, p. 8).  In other words, the medium is the basis for conveying a message to the public.  The internet changed the way we receive information. Not only did it improve the speed of information, but it provided a variety of it in one singular place.  Instead of going to the library and searching through thousands of books, we have access to an array of information with one click of a mouse.  

Another theory that I found to be quite fascinating in terms of our society today was Narcissus. McLuhan relates this method to Greek mythology and how man is fascinated with extensions of himself.  McLuhan states “the point of this myth is the fact that man at once become fascinated with any extension of themselves in any material other than themselves” (p. 41).  This is something that we can quite literally see in any social media platform.  It is strange to me how quickly we all embraced the idea of incorporating social media into our lives.  It almost seems like overnight we accumulated four additional social media platforms that we are now fascinated with.  First it was MySpace, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest.  It has becomes a normalcy to not just have one of these social media accounts, but all of them.  “To behold, use, or perceive any extension of ourselves in technological form is necessarily to embrace it” (McLuhan, p. 46).  In McLuhan’s time, we saw this embracing behavior in the radio and the newspaper.  Now, we see the main culprit being social media.  We have become fascinated by the number of likes, views, and feedback we can receive from posting one photo to our Facebook page.  While humans have always longed to seek validation from others, is it now too much?  Is it possible that these social media accounts, although beneficial in some respects, are attributing to a more depressed and anxious culture  simply because we are making ourselves more vulnerable to other people’s thoughts and actions on a daily basis?

McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: the extensions of man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Social Media. Do We Let This Determine Our Self – Perception?

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When referencing Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and relating it back to my personal and professional life, it is essential that self-efficacy is also incorporated into the discussion.  Much of how we view ourselves and our own personal abilities can determine whether we will have success in a specific field, business endeavor, and life-event.  Bandura breaks down SCT in a way that is relate-able to most everyone.  Personally, this theory helped me to better categorize myself and identify what particular life-events and environments helped to shape the person that I am today.   So much of what we do on a day to day basis is shaped off of what environments we have been apart of, what accomplishments we see our friends and family members achieving, and how we view ourselves. Ironically, much of what makes up our own self-efficacy is based off of our comparison to others and their specific lifestyles.

In terms of self efficacy, I believe I’m somewhere in the middle.  Throughout my life I’ve struggled with feelings not being good enough which ultimately led to an overall low self esteem.  Growing up, my family was very stern in terms of work. While this could most definitely be perceived as a family strength, it contributed to what I would call a product oriented personality type.  For example, my parents would give me praise for staying extremely busy,  achieving good grades, and making financial progress.  While these all sound like good things, it instilled in me the idea that the only times I was doing ‘good’ in life was when I was achieving something.

In a society that is now encompassed in a sea of social media, milestones and achievements are being broadcast continuously.  A couple gets engaged, someone lands a new job, a mother posts that she potty trained her toddler in just two short months.  While these platforms provide good models in terms of SCT, they can also be extremely disheartening if you are trying to perform the same actions to achieve the same goal with little to no success. Recently, I accepted a job at a marketing firm that I thought would most definitely produce a lucrative career in the future.  I was already enrolled in the MACS program, and despite having a lower sense of self-efficacy, decided to take this job because of what I saw others achieving on social media.  I kept thinking “Why would you not take this “big girl” job?  You’re still in school and this is a great opportunity to do something in the marketing field!” Additionally, I had a lot of support from my boyfriend and my family to take the job since it was correlated to what I was going to school for, fit my schedule, and provided adequate pay.  Throughout the interviewing process all I could think of was: “I hope I get this job.  It would be a dream come true to take a job like this and finally feel like I am one step further into adulthood and providing for my son.”  I didn’t much consideration into what I would actually be doing at the job. I just wanted it and was willing to work extremely hard no matter the circumstances.

After spending six months in the position it became extremely apparent to me that the job was not a good fit. It was nothing personal towards the company, but the lack of enthusiasm I had towards going to work everyday was weighing on me to an extreme length. While I put forth my absolute best effort, I eventually chose to look elsewhere for work. To me, this entire experience was a great example of how a particular situation that seemed to play out well for other individuals did not necessarily line up the same way for me.  While social media was not the sole reason why I chose to take the job, it most definitely had a significant effect on my decision.  The ability to continuously be updated on other people’s lives is what ultimately made me feel obligated to take the job in the end.  

This same example can be carried into Josh Harris’ documentary “Living in Public.”  Here, we see people’s fascination with being constantly watched by others.  One of his main arguments was that people want more than just 15 minutes of fame in their lifetime.  He believed that people wanted 15 minutes every day.  As time goes on, our world gets more and more obsessed with people and their daily activities.  Facebook live is a great example of the accessibility we now have to post just about anything we want and instantly have it viewed by thousands of people. We start letting likes, comments, and followers determine our self efficacy level instead of a close set of individuals and our morals.  The question now is when. When will it be okay to quite literally post anything on social media without any barriers (you can still report photos and inappropriate content)? Do you think as a society we will be able to one day say no to more in terms of social media?  

 

-Abby Franc