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bringing social back into the debates

October 17, 2012

I had a friend once ask if we here in the great capital of the United States have fun.

“What?” I laughed. “What exactly do you think we do?”

“Well…like sit around the fire and drink tea and talk about politics.”

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. For me, anyway. Most of the people I know spend their days drenched in governmental policies or politics in some way, so the last thing they do is want to talk about it in their spare time.

This election season has been a little bit different, though. I didn’t watch the debate in front of a fire place or over a nice cup of tea. I watched the debate in my pajama pants and a sweatshirt with a bowl of popcorn. But I did follow ongoing conversations about the debate through my twitter feed while I watched on TV. It’s been my favorite way to watch the debates this election season.

In the days of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, citizens traveled for miles in hot summer months to gather for debates that lasted several hours. Debate was a social experience. People brought food and conversed with others. I imagine men and women leaning across their blankets and picnic baskets during the debates – taking care not to bump their wide-brim sunhats – whispering comments to each other: “great point on the injustice of slavery” or “Stephen Douglas should really wear a different color.”

Today we’re bringing social back into the debate experience because social media is changing the way people interact with political debate. I follow people on far different ends of the political spectrum and with varying roles in our society, from columnists, to political strategists, to concerned (or not-so-concerned) citizens. Some make serious commentary about hard-hitting policy issues. Others add a (necessary) touch of wit to the debates. After last night’s debate, my stomach hurt from laughter. A combination of a witty twitter feed, some hilarious comments by the candidates, and a string of text messages with my sister made for quite a humorous evening. I guess our political system could use some humor from time to time.

What about you? How do you watch the debates? Do you like to follow others on twitter or facebook? Or do you find others’ commentary annoying?

Alfred Hitchcock and his dog. From here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. turnerlisa permalink
    October 17, 2012 11:38 am

    Did that friend have the initials A.T? :) Last night J and I watched it in bed with D while doing laundry. My favorite is the recap on GMA when they list the # of tweets, most popular google searches etc. I try to stay off FB, but read some pretty funny comments this morning.

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