November 8 brought us a new president, so naturally every day following this week will bring constant talk about it.
It is no secret that this election has gone rogue. Social media has given ordinary people greater power to have their voices heard, and the traditional media only knows how to cater to and dramatize these voices. Hillary Clinton has tried her hardest to run a traditional campaign, while Donald Trump has successfully turned it into a reality TV show.
Regardless of political views, you cannot deny the absolute chaos that has gone on with this election. The public was presented with two candidates that were running polar-opposite campaigns from each other, in a society that is too lazy to read anything longer than a meme.
Cartoon character Pepe the Frog became a meme that spread around the internet, but was turned into a hate symbol and banned by the Anti-Defamation League. After Pepe was turned into Hitler and other bigoted and offensive ideas, Trump’s son posted a photoshopped image of Pepe as a member of “the Deplorables.” In response to this Hillary Clinton’s campaign released an explanation about the frog’s representation of white supremacy.
We have never seen anything like this happen within a presidential election. The election season dissolved into back and forth arguing, petty nonsense and an obvious attempt to appeal to millennials.
Social media was a huge tool, and in previous elections it was properly used. For example, Obama used it to his advantage by raising money, creating ringtones and wallpapers for cellphones. In this election, however, social media campaigning has been turned into trolling.
Even on the day of the election, pictures and memes of Donald Trump leaning over to see who his wife was voting for immediately went viral. This is not reporting. This is not journalism. This is trolling.
Reporters have an ethical duty to report the facts, issues and newsworthy events. However, in their desperate attempt to reach a younger demographics attention, as well as staying up to date with trends, the media turned to hate and used memes with little to no newsworthy material.
When the people began veering away from traditional news sources, they began listening to more late night political shows that shed politics in a satirical light, while also often staying true to the story. These shows made the people realize what is going on and what should be done. The so-called “John Oliver Effect” inspired people to write their congressmen, made legislators change their votes and created huge donations to worthy causes. It was just one year ago when Oliver began to inspire viewers and change the course of journalism, inspiring people to care again.
Unfortunately, Generation Y swooped in and ruined it. Now anyone can start a blog, meme account, or podcast and begin spouting off their completely biased opinion without ever having to state a fact, back up a source or share the other side of the story. The John Oliver effect is still relevant in these situations. People hear someone who speaks confidently and they like what they hear, so they do what they say. In addition, they find a person who openly admits to not knowing anything about politics before spouting their political opinion, and people identify with this person, and begin believing and supporting what they say, no matter what it is.
This election took America for a spin, and we let it. We openly and willingly ignored facts, and paid attention to memes or troll accounts. We decided we did not know anything about politics, and chose to keep it that way.
Hillary Clinton did not win the 2016 Presidential election, but neither did Donald Trump. Trolling won this round.