I will tell any politician who asks me what my opinion is of Twitter for political engagement, that as a viable medium to influence voters it is tits.
Mostly you are followed by sycophants, or stalkers. Almost never by swinging voters seeking “engagement”. It is only really good for broadcasting or sledging.
If a paid consultant starts talking to you about “engagement via social media” as being relevant, stop paying them, and back slowly out of the room.
Most people at first believed that the new social media, in all its various manifestations, would be a very good thing for political debate. They thought it would make public life more open and democratic.
There is some evidence that this is the case. However, there is a great deal of evidence that the reverse is also true. Take the example of Twitter. Certainly it is a way of getting information into the public domain very quickly. But there is no room at all, within the constraints of just 140 characters, to make complex or thoughtful arguments.
Twitter, therefore, reduces conversation to what is, in effect, a series of newspaper headlines. As a result, many users enter a kind of competition to make the most striking or outlandish comments, in order to grab the attention of their audience – one reason why poor Sally Bercow came a cropper. This, in turn, creates a nightmarish political discourse that favours the short-term over the long-term, the sensational over the mundane, the false over the true, and the strident over the thought-provoking. Read more »