By the time I finish writing this post, Barack Obama will be delivering his fourth State of the Union address. This is nothing new; neither is the pessimistic feeling that seems to have befallen the American people. (Just a few hours ago, USA Today asked its twitter followers to give one word to describe how they felt about the nation; “screwed,” “pathetic” and “joke” were common terms.)
However, something new is being included in today’s SOTU that will last much longer than any congressman or woman’s career— instant social media feedback.
The White House is adding numerous interactive features to this address, including live chats with officials about issues highlighted in the president’s speech. A YouTube video explains all of the brand-new ways the White House is attempting to engage the public. They are connecting via Google+, Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps. Right now, they are streaming a special annotated version of the address live here. This version includes pictures, quotes, and facts that have been perfectly timed to match Obama’s words.
I haven’t even began to mention the scores of politicians from both sides of the spectrum who have vowed to live-tweet their feelings during the speech.
With all of this commenting going on, it begs the question: Will we ever be able to turn the “comment box” of life off? Will society ever be able to simply sit back and listen to something before responding to it? Or will we get commentary from Joe Republican or Susie Democrat or Independent Pat before the words even are out of the speaker’s mouth? Are we too dependent on social media that we can’t function without constant interaction?
The incessant focus, especially in politics, of quickly responding and fact checking and finger-pointing, puts us at what I believe is a gross disadvantage. It doesn’t allow anybody to think. It takes time to digest what we hear. We need to think about the words, their connotations and how they fit together to make meanings and points before we can truly form an opinion.
That being said, I am guilty of the exact same thing I am accusing our lawmakers and politicians of doing. I will live-tweet the Academy Awards for the second time this year. I will judge and comment on dresses and speeches within seconds of my neurons firing. My one consolation, however, is knowing that what Brangelina wore to the Oscars is less important to the USA than the SOTU.
What do you think? Do you like the new features? I must admit they are pretty cool, but must be taken with a grain of salt. Can you turn off the “comment box” on your life?
- Where To Watch The 2013 State of the Union Address And How Social Media Is Being Used (techfleece.com)
- White House Marshals Social Media for Obama Address (blogs.wsj.com)