Party in the twitterverse: celebrities, glamour, news

623

Yesterday, I came to a life-changing conclusion about Twitter: it's like I've been invited to a party full of awesome people.

At this party, I mostly get to watch famous people talk to each other and hope that one day they'll talk to me. So far, it hasn't happened. But observing these public thoughts of important people makes me feel pretty involved.

I'll be up-front. Nothing makes me laugh harder than watching the Kardashians tweet back and forth at each other. But to be totally honest, I like Twitter the most for its easy access to news, and the ramblings of politicians.

Take one of Mitt Romney's latest tweets, which calls the Obama administration "arrogant, absent and alarming." As a potential presidential contender in 2012, I like seeing him taking a strong stance, plus I always appreciate alliteration.

Another potential candidate, Jon Huntsman, tweets at journalists and politicians a lot. Through his sarcasm and witty hashtags, I feel like he is reaching out to college-aged voters more than other candidates.

As a stereotypically disgruntled student of political science, I am constantly musing about why students are either apathetic to political issues or pay attention to the wrong issues. Twitter has been a sort of answer to my prayers, i.e. whining. 

Twitter provides engagement for the politically-interested as well as for those who don't traditionally follow political issues. Thanks to Twitter, new followers can learn the opinions of a candidate, or quickly read a relevant headline between the latest Sorority Girl Problem and the always-profound commentary of Rob Kardashian

Now to another level of disgruntled quasi-whining: anyone with a Twitter has no excuse for being uninformed. 

I certainly don't expect students to sit on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the next political move of an upcoming politician. Nor would I suggest that every student scour local, national and international headlines in the hopes of learning literally everything that's happening that day (and gets covered, of course). 

But when a summary of today's political issues is available right at your fingertips in 140 characters or less, there's simply no excuse for being chronically apathetic.

As for the use of Twitter on campus, I'm not sure it's quite as popular as Facebook. On Aug. 17, President Brian Casey started tweeting. As of Sunday afternoon, he had 780 followers. I know DePauw is cracking a dent in the "Twitterverse."

I don't believe for half a second that virtual engagement is the same thing as being civically engaged. Reading headlines, particularly if you skip the actual article, isn't the same as thinking critically about issues and how they affect us. 

Similarly, retweeting a politician's words isn't the same thing as volunteering, campaigning or voting. 

Nevertheless, the slight effort it takes to become politically active and aware could lead to larger trends of actual engagement and turnout. These trends could have implications for our generation's impact in politics, and in the world.

The 2012 election is already heating up (and no, I'm not referring to Sarah Palin's oh-so-riveting speech in Iowa last Saturday). What better way for our generation to show we're interested than engaging digitally?

I don't expect Twitter to change the face of government and politics as we know it, but I don't see why we shouldn't try. 

— Ayers is a senior political science major from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the opinion editor for The DePauw. opinion@thedepauw.com