Election 2020: Plumbing Social Media

On Tuesday, August 18, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took her 1 minute viral speech seriously, pushing the boundaries of virtual political messaging to do a fist pump across the social media divide.

She folksily nominated “Sen. Bernard Sanders” for President, warbled “bienvenidos,” and summoned LatinX, LGBTQ and progressive voices to act up. In so do doing AOC gave credence to the social media divide, leaving the rest of us “lefties” and “Trumpies” to our prose and Fox “News.”

She deserved more that 1 minute, a poor political calculation probably fueled by the DNC’s stubbornness at moving on from the 2016 Sanders-Clinton dust up. One minute, she had and in one minute she stole Tuesday’s virtual show. Not for what she said but for what she is “about to say.” For her tribe is firmly, confidently ensconced in a virtual, relentless digital, global Town Hall.

Call it the “social media divide.”

The media of choice for LatinX kitchen tables is the iPhone, not the Washington Post or the New York Times. On any given Sunday AOC’s Twitter followers out number the Times and Post readership. Or consider that Fox “News” may be on the set, but the bored Gen-whatever’s are busily thumbing through Twitter and Facebook feeds.

So also are AOC’s “speeches” the granola of social media. Better to call them “AOC moments.” AOC may make a speech on the House floor about the misogynist vacuousness of “fathers with daughters” but her audience has been primed before — and for those who missed her CSpan appearance — and after the physical address.

We don’t bother ourselves with what she’s wearing or that her glasses are from Warby-Parker. We don’t need that noise. We can go right to the source on our iPhones. It’s an “in the moment listen-up.”

Remember when Newt Gingrich pulled off his C-Span marathon? We have — to force a comparison — AOC “in the moment,” urging, cajoling, reassuring, challenging.

No wonder Republicans seethe at her on-line dominance: her voice is compelling across social media. She can tweet and chew “policy gum” at the same time. She quits one partisan institution — Party dominated caucuses — to embrace an unfolding “other.” While Republican white boys are lining up for a Fox News interview, AOC is doing damage to another corrupt Trump appointee in a remote House Committee Conference Room. And winning the video op of the evening news.

That she accomplishes as much in 1 minute — 1 minute 46 seconds to be exact — as most prose-mastered politicians do in twenty minutes is testament to the social media divide: those peering behind their tabloids and TV monitors versus those cruising Twitter feeds, Justice Democrat Facebook groups and TYT.

Oh, if Marshall McLuhan were alive, would he have a political analyst’s field day! (1)

August 18–19, 2020

1- Marshall McLuhan, author, “Understanding Media ” 1964 and “The Media is the Message,” 1967

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Rodney Clough

Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.