Thursday, August 30, 2012

President Barack Obama: Redditor?!

President Obama's "verification" that he was on Reddit. Note the Reddit insignia on the cover of his laptop. (Source: imgr)

While the last presidential election prompted the initial utilization of YouTube and Facebook to connect with voters, President Barack Obama decided to take another step toward Internet prominence this week by engaging in an AMA, or Ask Me Anything post I am Barack Obama, President of the United States – AMAin the popular forum-like website Reddit. Starting the post as PresidentObama, a feat in itself that that username has not been taken yet, Obama covered subjects in this Q&A session ranging from NASA, Internet freedom, the possibility of losing the presidential election, basketball, beer, funding for elections, post-college qualms, to Obama’s personal day-to-day time management. 

As President Obama stepped into the uncharted territory of Reddit – a medium not previously utilized by past presidential candidates – the Republican Party took the more conservative (pun-intended?) route to promote their ideals and direction in Tampa, Florida with the Republican National Convention. The current face of the GOP, Mitt Romney formally accepts the Republican presidential nominee center stage, in front of the more mainstream news media outlets. Obama, taking the alternative means of reaching out to voters, actually at-times overwhelmed the Reddit servers, "reddit is under heavy load right now, sorry. Try again in a few minutes," causing Obama’s AMA post content to load very slowly, but nonetheless proving that his presence on the Internet was a hit.

My Facebook feed, the source of how I discovered this commotion, was heavy on the “OMG” and “COOL” in reaction to Obama's interaction, signifying the shock my peers felt as the President was taking the time to answer questions that they could ask. Though Obama already has achieved his Internet notoriety through the widely-used Obama’s Not Bad Rage Face meme, his engagement with Redditors brings him to a higher level of relatabilty, just as PresidentObama ends his last comment in the AMA post in reference to his popularly-used Internet meme with: By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience - NOT BAD!”
 
(Source: quickmeme)

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has his own popular meme, although not as positive as he would hope compared to Obama. Meet Relatable Romney, giving his strongest efforts to relate to the common people’s current woes but alas due to his known wealth and assumed wealthy lifestyle, he fails to do so.
I guess we all feel the summer heat, right Mitt? (Source: Huffington Post)

Does this bring Obama to an advantageous point having tried to connect with a wide span of potential voters with a never-before-used medium, while Romney attends the GOP convention that makes note of Obama’s failures as a president? Will Obama’s entry to where the common Internet users interact prompt other elected officials, perhaps Relatable Romney, to boldly go deeper into the depths of the Internet in attempts to sway more voters, a more no-holds-barred environment – where censorship is almost non-existent? 


Chester Wai is a Social Media Intern at IIR USA with a specialization in Cultural Studies and Digital Arts. He may be reached at Cwai@iirusa.com

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