Do you believe the hype?


Tweets about previous elections viewed on the laptop screens.

Social media, which is now used by a vast majority of people, has evidently had many affects on society. While many of its effects have been positive, such as being able to communicate and share photos and videos with friends and family much more easily, it has also had some negative effects, such as its effects on government elections.

In the 2016 presidential election, all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media, the negativity against the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was prevalent. It appeared that many people did not support his candidacy whereas the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, seemed to be the one who would win the election in the end. However, to the surprise of many, especially social media users, Donald Trump was soon elected the President of the United States.

Fast forward to the Texas Senate race that just came to a close, and resulted in the Democratic candidate, Beto O’Rourke, who gained a large following and love all across social media, losing against the Republican candidate, Ted Cruz. The admiration and passion for O’Rourke was evident all over social media, and democrats in Texas were finally hopeful that, for the first time in 24 years, their candidate would win the election to represent Texas. However, disappointment and quite a bit of shock reigned again when the personable O’Rourke was edged out by the less than personable incumbent. With social media, painting a picture of victory for the challenger,  Sarah Hamdan, a student at Westside High School, said, “I just really thought Beto would win. He just had so much support on Twitter. It’s surprising.” and “I really thought he would win since young adult voters went up by 500% and all the ideas he had to offer.”

Now, what happened in both of these elections, you may ask? How did social media seem to lean in favor of a certain candidate, yet that candidate still did not win? One answer to this is that social media seems to be highly populated by younger generations since many people in these younger age groups were predisposed to technology and social media at a young age. This means that many of the opinions, including political opinions, all over social media are primarily those of younger people.

One issue with this is that many young people on social media are either not old enough, meaning 18 or older, to vote or they are simply not voting even though they are eligible voters. This has become a major issue since young people have had the tendency to express their political opinions online, but they then feel like their vote would not matter. Thus, they stick to tweeting and posting about the issues and candidates they support, but they then don’t actually go out and vote. This results in social media being covered with the views expressed by many younger individuals, which seems to be more Democratic most of the time, even though there aren’t many votes actually coming from these posts and social media coverage.

Also, social media does not take into account people who do not use social media, which happens to be many people in older age groups. Younger and older people have many different perspectives, and these diverging views include politics. Based on the statistics of many previous elections, older voters are more prone to voting for Republican candidates in comparison to younger voters. This means that many people going out and voting for the Republican candidates, such as Trump and Cruz, are not being highlighted on social media since lots of older voters don’t have any, or simply have very little, social media. Also, older people are more likely to vote than younger people; this means that they are also getting more votes in than the younger generations. The older aged voters’ opinions are not being seen very much on social media, so come election day, many of those votes weren’t previously considered on social media.

Social media causes people to assume an inaccurate outcome of an election, for the people on social media are not always an accurate representation of how an overall population will actually vote. Also, when people see that a specific candidate is supported and loved by people on many specific social media platforms, they sometimes believe that their votes are not necessary for that candidate to win since they are already so supported. Never assume a specific candidate will win simply due to the way he or she is viewed on social media. Instead, go out and vote each election if you are an eligible voter. Vote for change every single time, no matter what you see on social media! Vote, vote, vote!