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Social Media and the Changing Face of Politics

social_media_strategyI read an interesting article in the New York Times this morning that speculates about what the “swarm” of young social media activists that catapulted the Bernie Sanders campaign are going to do next. These tech savvy activists are developing new ways of campaigning and raising money. Many may turn next to down-ticket progressives, which would be great.

Social media has really changed the face of campaigning, and it raises the question of whether traditional mailers even make sense anymore. When I ran for the Delaware State Senate in 2014, we spent over $60,000 on mailers. We were cognizant, at the time, that recipients would probably spend only a few seconds looking at each mailer, as they walked towards the recycling bin. Yet we sent them anyway.

Why did we spend so much time and money on mailers? At the time they seemed to make sense as an intermediary touch — more targeted then signs and less targeted than emails to known supporters.

Social media is a great organizing tool that I use more and more for my own work. In fact, I just took a really helpful webinar from Rethink Media yesterday on how to make better use of Twitter , and I’m already putting what I learned into practice.

However, I also have mixed emotions about social media. I know its downsides, the way it erodes face time, undermines civil discourse, stymies the development of social skills among the young, and serves as a conduit for bullying and horrific misogynistic harassment.

And I know I personally spend way too much time on my phone, scrolling through Facebook and now Twitter. Yet I can’t give it up, given that its the current and future of community organizing.

The question for me is simply how to corral it and reestablish a better work/life balance.

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