Opinion: Obamania MMXII: Live!

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

It’s hard to deny Barack Obama’s immense celebrity. When the president strutted down the walkway toward his podium Wednesday, the noise level in the M.A.C. Center made me think the Beatles had reunited. Obama was in his element. The president strives on his star power.

Waiting in line for hours during torrential downpours makes you really consider why you’re not curled up in a warm bed. However, it seemed like everyone was dead set on the objective at hand. While it wasn’t golf weather, it could have been worse—this is northeast Ohio, anyway. Over the course of the afternoon, people began to make friends with the group around them, which made time go by a little faster. Overall, waiting in line was a very positive and very wet experience.

However, one thing I did notice while standing in line was the throng of iPad and iPhone users walking along the line, presumably taking video. What possible purpose could your home videos have? Is your mom or best friend from home really that interested in a mundane long line? And another thing: If you’re using your iPad camera in a public place, sorry, but you’re doing it wrong. Not only is the camera on the iPad absolutely atrocious, but you look really silly, too.

I found great humor in the painful buildup to the president’s speech. It was like the world’s most disappointing game of musical chairs that was set to an awful soundtrack. Every time someone would speak or there was a pause in the deplorable melodies of the past decade, the entire crowd leapt to its feet for the chance to catch the first glimpse of the commander-in-chief, only to be disappointed by another terrible song.

When the president finally made his appearance to the crowd, something very interesting happened. Nearly every hand in the crowd held a smartphone or camera phone with the intent to digitally capture a lifelong memory. Obama visiting campus Wednesday highlights the dramatic shift in the prevailing cultural zeitgeist. From the first speculations of the visit last week to extensive Facebook status updates, tweets and countless Instagram photos, it has become obvious how much of our lives are actually lived in two worlds.

It seems that the Obama campaign is worlds ahead of Mitt Romney’s on the Internet and in social media. While Obama has masterfully orchestrated a wide-reaching social networking movement, a trickle of mostly angry, middle-aged trolls represents the Romney campaign online.

It has become important for any politician to note the significance things like smartphones and the Internet have become in the lives of many. In the 2008 election, access to smartphones and social media were limited to mostly youth on the bleeding edge. As a result, both the Obama and McCain campaigns had very weak online showings. Now that these technologies have been widely accepted by nearly all demographics, politicians should move their campaigns from traditional media.

The 2016 election could be the first technocentric one in the history of the United States. The impact of social media on our culture and democracy has only recently become apparent, and it will be interesting to see the extent of technology’s influence on all other parts of American life.