Social Media (by: Jocelyn Van Beek)

Social media could determine the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election.  I knew people were using this medium to get their news, but holy man they are using it!  I found it intriguing that I didn’t interview a single person who completely opposed using social media as a news source.  In fact, it was quite the opposite, and I discovered that most of them would be much less engaged and involved in the election if not for social media.

Not to mention, I was impressed with how many of my interviewees said they rarely use social media as a lone source.  For the most part, they emphasized that social media leads to biases if we surround ourselves with friends who share similar ideologies and news that reinforces our beliefs.  I couldn’t agree more that it’s incredibly important to dig deeper for credible news content.

While siphoning through my interviews, I realized that I lacked resources and time for this project.  Because I attend a university where politics and the Wisconsin State Capitol heavily influence the lifestyles of UW-Madison students, I found that I lacked opinions of students from other schools where this influence may be less.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to see so many of my fellow classmates heavily involved in the election, but I wish I could have had the opportunity to spend time with students from other schools as well.  It’s funny because one of my interviewees mentioned that most of her friends at other schools don’t care about politics.  I would have liked to investigate her statement further, asking them whether or not they use social media in search of news as faithfully as UW-Madison students.  However, I was limited to the realms of my own campus, as it was not possible to hop around to other campuses during midterms.  Nevertheless, UW-Madison is an extremely diverse school, and I’m happy with the way everything turned out.

Overall, I had a great time covering this story.  I learned a lot about the impact of social media not only on the election, but the massive impact it has on the world in general.  It plays a major role in so many peoples’ lives, and it’ll be exciting to see its role in determining the next President of the United States.

–Jocelyn Van Beek

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