The Presidential Election and Technology: A Reflection By Taylor Blake

Hello Honors Students!

We are starting off the first post new year with this reflection by Taylor Blake, a fellow honors student, who remarked on the Presidential Election and the influence of Technology:

Reflection: YOVO 1st Presidential Debate

            I attended the live streaming of the first presidential debate on October 3rd. This event was held in the Euler commons, and was hosted by the Global Engagement group YOVO: You Only Vote Once (in College). I don’t think I’ve ever sat through an entire presidential debate before (although I have seen snippets of them in the past), and so I was excited to have this opportunity to watch it with friends and discuss it with other people who were interested in the topics.

            I was blown away by the number of students who attended—one person helping run the event estimated about 400 came. One thing I took away from the night is that Taylor students care about politics and matters that affect our country. However, by my estimates, there may have even been an important count that outnumbered the students in Euler: the count of tweets we sent out in that hour-and-a-half period.

            As Mitt Romney and Barack Obama debated, students typed away on phones and laptops, recording their reactions and responses to what they saw on screen. The provider we chose to watch the debate online with also featured tweets about the debates on the bottom of the screen—you could hear the group of us begin laughing and “oooh”-ing in response to what some other watchers around the country (and probably around the world) had to say about Romney and Obama’s performances.

            Needless to say, our consumption of politics has changed in recent years, even since the 2008 election. Our generation feels the need to reply to the events around us by posting about it on social media (oftentimes Facebook and Twitter), and we continue the process by replying to each other further on social media. The physical world is companioned by the Internet world, which is full of thoughts and words people probably never literally utter in the former.

            I tweeted four times throughout the debate and kept up with others responses on Twitter on and off through the night. Although some critics might say that’s not a positive development in our society, I disagree—I think it is just one of our new forms of getting politically involved, especially with my age group. We students were bringing the politics into our daily lives of social media. To me, that’s a step forward for civic awareness in my generation. Romney and Obama continued to throw numbers and accusations at each other, and I never could completely follow that, even though I’ve studied government before. However, opportunities to understand better actually came up on Twitter: The Echo tweeted and retweeted commentary on what the candidates were saying for Taylor students, and other national news sources provided their own thoughts and fact checks to what the candidates said. The tools of every generation are what the users make them to be; obviously not everyone will use social media to keep up with our political landscape, but many people are choosing to do that, even the younger generation.

            I’ve decided that the campaign name for the political activism on Taylor campus is quite appropriate. YOVO is a play off of “YOLO,” a trendy Internet acronym right now. It represents the fusion of politics and media that our generation commonly creates and interacts with, especially present and prevalent on our campus. Instead of a concern, though, this is a positive step forward—students are finding opportunities to connect with politics with where their lives are now and are continuing to influence the trends and results.

Stay tuned for more regular updates as the year goes on!



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