Harshtags: Obama, Romney Flame War Over Twitter

The country has been taken over by 11-year-old girls — at least that’s the indication if you judged our leaders by their Twitter feeds. Both candidates, whose parties have each spent upwards of $100,000 (a source for the Democratic Underground speculates that the Republicans have actually spent closer to $360,000…this too could be more party-baiting though) for the promotion of their rhetoric through national trending topics. The topics, a product of a Twitter algorithm to decide the issues most Americans are interested in, have enabled the politicians to engage in a potentially futile war for the hearts and minds of America’s social media enthusiasts. By appearing as hashtags, the trending topics move throughout the Twitter-verse disguised as the innocent musings of the concerned citizen, nothing loaded or sinister about them.
Romney first toed the digital pool with his appropriately conservative #RomneyRyan2012. Perhaps it was a bit too conservative, because later, the Republican Party and one of their Political Action Committee (PAC) support groups, “Americans For Prosperity,” purchased #AreYouBetterOff and #16TrillionFail. In the tween world, this is akin to posting on Facebook that Obama is “a no-good hoochie.”

Obama’s camp, not wanting to “hear that” responded by purchasing #Forward 2012 for the Democratic National Convention. The two then stepped back to let their friends and supporters do the fighting for them. I saw this once before, in fifth grade, when Aida Marskitan told Missy Cooper that she smelled like horse poo (to be fair, I did grow up in farming country). Then, instead of Missy doing anything, Missy’s best friend Rachel Beckwith went and slapped Erin Kim — Aida’s best friend! Totally cray-cray.

As social media develops and becomes a facet of the political agenda, the accountability drops away and the trolls come out. Rather than sticking along their party designation, the trolls have absorbed each others’ hashtags and begun to spread the message forth, laced with sarcasm. So now, Obama’s friends have taken over Romney’s hashtags to spread their agenda, while Romney’s friends have done the same to Obama. More money has been shovelled into the political machine, more hatred has been spooned on the fire, and nothing has been achieved. God, this is so like an episode of “Gossip Girl.”