Twitter Memes: How They Can Affect Public Opinion
One thing that can completely change the public opinion of a politician is trending posts and memes on social media. Politicians have always been made a joke in the media, but being created into a meme could cause the voters to take them much less seriously. It could make them more or less likable and it could significantly affect their campaign. This has been happening since Obama’s presidency when the Joe Biden memes were the biggest Twitter trend. While Obama was president, Biden was turned into a goofy, lighthearted guy who was there to support Obama as a best friend rather than make real decisions as his vice president. This actually seemed to make him more likable because of the comedic nature of the memes, but it also caused Americans to take him less seriously as someone who could be in charge.
Now as a candidate for president, Biden has become the center of a different set of memes. Some of the newer memes consist of jokes about his sexual assault allegations. The memes show him as a creepy old man who gropes women, which is drastically different from the last series of Biden memes. Although the memes are still made to be comedic, it is a darker type of comedy that attempts to show Biden in a negative light. This could cause voters to now be creeped out by Biden instead of seeing him as a lovable grandfather figure.
Following the first democratic debate, another candidate was the center of Twitter jokes. Beto O’Rourke thought it would help his campaign to answer questions partially in Spanish. It’s safe to assume that he was hoping to appeal to Spanish-speaking voters, especially considering that he is a former Texas representative. This attempt caused voters to think that he was trying too hard to be appealing when many people there had no idea what he was
saying. Cory Booker also joined in on the Spanish speaking, with an accent just as weak as O’Rourke’s
. Many people were unaware of whether they were even speaking the language correctly. As a result, the only thing people really remember from that debate was the battle of who could answer the most questions in Spanish instead of knowing where the candidates stand on the issues.
Elizabeth Warren was also created into a meme when she pretended to be Native American for years to appeal to minority voters. She was exposed recently and has apologized for it, but that didn’t stop the internet from making another meme to mock her and the situation. In these memes, she is portrayed as someone who lies to voters, and this decreased the people’s trust in her as a worthy candidate.
These memes and many others are also referenced in a YouTube video that went viral on Twitter. The video, created by Washington Free Beacon, compares quotes from Michael Scott from the TV show The Office to the democratic presidential candidates. The video is the perfect way to characterize candidates because it relates to a popular TV show that many young voters have seen. This allows them to compare a candidate to a quote that they have already heard, making it easier to remember the jokes about the candidates.
Social media today has a much more significant effect on presidential campaigns, and politics and general, than in the past. News media has always been able to skew perceptions of politicians, but social media sheds a whole new light on how people see politicians. Memes can increase the exposure of the candidate to young voters, but the content of the memes can have a negative effect on the candidate’s campaign. Either way, the memes are enjoyable to voters that have social media accounts, and they can make campaigns more engaging for those who don’t follow the race too closely.
Sources: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/joe-biden-memes/ https://www.facebook.com/pg/creepyjoebiden/posts/ https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1508010-beto-orourke-speaking-spanish http://www.therxforum.com/showthread.php?t=1120893