Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Twitter, Obama and Belonging

Four years ago tonight I finally understood Twitter. I'd been on it for a few months but I was struggling to get what it was all about. Then came the 2008 Amercian Presidential Elections. Twitter changed its homepage so that you could see all election tweets, the hot election topics and what the candidates were saying. Here was an election that I couldn't vote in; with tweets from people I didn't know and I was prepared to stay up all night reading them. Suddenly I got it. I was addicted.

Four years later and Twitter's role in the election coverage is unsurprisingly bigger than ever. Tonight's 'Four more years' tweet from Barack Obama has quickly become the most retweeted ever (451,172 at 4.16am) and both campaign teams have embraced social media more than ever to get their message (and the vote) out.

Big bang moments like elections (or super-storms, or baddies being killed or celebrities saying they're pregnant) are when Twitter comes into its own. With its thrillingly fast feeds and instantly updated trending topics, it taps into the human instinct to swam around a subject, hear what other people are saying, express their views and feel part of something.
It's human nature to relish that excitement and feeling of belonging.

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