The White House

Sorry for the delay.

The White House has quite a history of making an effort to connect with the American people, with the first example popping to mind being FDR’s famous Fireside Chats that all third grade American kids learn about in school. But in this time of ever-evolving social media, this interaction with the White House and the president of the United States has become more direct than ever. Take for example President Obama’s AMA from two years ago that, to my frustration crashed the website multiple times, but also broke records for Reddit pageviews: it gave citizens the opportunity to interact directly with one of the most important people in American politics.

However, I think the most important thing to take away from the increased effort on the part of the White House to be engaged with younger audiences through social networking platforms (evidenced by the eight sites linked out in the footer of their website) is that in reality, it really isn’t an effort to engage with younger audiences, but it is really an effort to get young voters into the voting booth. All it takes is a few replies every month to a few youngsters on public websites to perpetuate the illusion that the American people are in conversation with the government online. However, the thing is, no matter how many times I mention the White House on twitter or comment on Youtube videos, the likelihood of me actually affecting policy is pretty much null, the White House presenting us information on these two way channels simply gives the illusion of dialogue when in reality it is more closely resembles a broadcast network where the station occasionally takes calls from viewers. In this way, I think it is important to look at the White House in the same way that we look at designers of social networking sites: we shouldn’t take what they say at face value but instead question why the “features” of their “participatory nature” work the way they do.

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