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Latarski: Twitter, Friend or Foe?
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There appears to be a new political battleground afoot and it is not a state or even a controversial issue.

It seems politicians and their handlers have determined social media is a way to reach out and touch the voters and promote their agenda without the need for high dollar advertising or the mainstream media.

On paper this sounds perfectly reasonable. Politicians like to talk about getting their message out and anytime they lose they start mumbling about having failed to get said message out, never considering they actually did get the message out and the voters wanted no part of it.

The fact they may be able to do that now in the most direct way of all time looks appealing. The problem is they rue the day at their success.

Politicians, especially during election time, can shoot from the lip faster than The Rifleman could shoot from the hip and comments that would be better off left over a slice of pizza and a beer suddenly find their way into cyberspace.

It may very well turn out the only thing more dangerous than a teenager with a driver's license will be a politician with a Twitter account.

Politicians specialize in presenting abbreviated ideas in half-clip phrases so Twitter looks to be made for them.
One but can wonder if they will learn their lesson from the countless number of athletes and celebrities who fire off a Tweet only to look around four hours later and say, "Uh, that's not exactly what I meant to say" and then spend the next four weeks trying to explain away some insipid comment.

It is one thing to cry and whine into the camera and claim you were misquoted but quite another when something comes out in writing, or in the case of Twitter alleged writing, with your name attached.

There is also the issue of actually utilizing the technology because there are some who are not that adept.

I suspect there are a few iron lung politicians out there when asked, "Do you Tweet?" will reply, "No, I got a lot of other physical ailments but I don't have the tweet."

And just wait until we get the announcement via Twitter from a candidate that reads, "U will c no nu taxes from me" except he leaves out the "no." That will go under the heading of a great big oops and even his wife won't vote for him.

This means that soon every politician, elected or running, will have a Chief of Staff, a Communications Director and a 19-year-old kid working in a closet with the title Director of Social Networking.

Eventually a candidate will respond to a question by saying, "I'll answer that later today via cyberspace." Then he will run back to his office, knock on the closet door and say, "Oh, Biff, I need to explain my economic policy in 50 words or less."

Twitter has basically emerged as the new version of the political button. Do not be surprised if we reach the point where people print out their Tweets and wear them on the front of their shirts.

Political buttons were once the rave and my personal favorite, although not a fan of Richard Nixon, was the one that read, "Nixon Out Front." This particular button was meant to be worn by female supporters in an area that put it, well, out front. They didn't call him Tricky Dick for nothing and it could give you pause for thought.
Not that using social media is a bad thing. A run-off at the mouth, off the cuff, duh, why-did-I-say-that Tweet, and the follow-up explanation of why what was said was not said, may reveal more about a candidate than a dozen debates or high dollar attack ads.

Candidates want direct contact with the public but they should be careful what they ask for because the untoward
Tweet can hang around a neck like the anchor from the USS Nimitz.

And when that happens, they will long for the days of the political button. At least then, when the election was over, you had a nice box of keepsakes.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at