Barack Obama needs to stop hamming it up on the internet.
Let me make one thing clear: I am a bleeding heart liberal, and I want this man back in office.
This is the first presidential election I’ve been old enough to vote in, and I’m pretty excited about being able to actively support Obama.
But his approach to his 2012 campaign seems to have been designed by a group of socially inept teenagers.
On Wednesday, Aug. 29, President Obama took an unprecedented step in his campaign strategy by holding an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit.
On one hand, this was an interesting and new way to connect with and respond to the concerns of a demographic that would otherwise not have the opportunity to come in direct contact with the president of the United States.
He provided comforting, encouraging answers to redditors who posed serious questions about things like jobs for the middle class, protection of small businesses, and internet freedom.
On the other hand, he was wasting his time by exploiting his own popularity among an age group and social class that he already knows will largely be voting for him anyway.
Obama has become something of a pop culture icon. From the YouTube mashups of him performing “Call Me Maybe” to the omnipresent PhotoShop job of him smugly smiling and holding a bald eagle, mainstream youth culture loves Barack Obama.
He can sing Al Green.
And, as he has famously responded to various hecklers during his career as president, he loves us back.
But his recent attempts to expand his popularity through the use of every social media outlet he can think of comes off as a lame attempt to channel the passion of America’s youth to reignite the flames of hope from his 2008 campaign.
Thanks to his campaign workers, Obama has over 19 million followers on Twitter and over twenty eight million fans on Facebook.
He even has an active Tumblr account. By measure of sheer numbers, Obama is more popular on the internet than Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney, however, has not spent the last four years in the oval office and had that amount of time and influence to amass internet followers.
Popularity on the internet is not foreshadowing a win in the 2012 election, nor is it indicative of a successful campaign strategy or an effective plan for a potential second term in office.
So what does Obama’s Internet popularity actually reflect?
On a positive note, it reflects an earnest desire to connect with his target audience and an adept knowledge of the correct way to go about appealing to a certain demographic.
On a realistic note, it’s a sign that he’s beating a dead horse by trying to be “cool” to the members of the internet generation: a generation who, for the most part, is responsible for making him “cool” anyway.
He’s trying in the most shallow way possible to not lose our interest, when what really impresses us is what he stands for; not some campaign intern’s ability to reblog a gif of him high-fiving a baby on a Tumblr that is polluted with poorly written, ill-thought-out submissions from enthusiastic Obama supporters.
Obama’s internet crusade is a misdirection of appeal, and I only say that because I want the guy to win.
But if he’s going to do that, he needs to take a more serious approach to relating to his audience than talking about beer and family dinners on Reddit.
I’m not voting for Obama because he’s an Internet sensation. I’m not voting for him because I can retweet him or because I thought it was precious when he, when talking about aging and his hair graying, responded with “Michelle still thinks I’m cute.”
I’m voting for him because he doesn’t believe women should be treated as a special interest group.
I’m voting for him because I think education should be a national priority, and because I understand that circumstances greatly influences an individual’s ability to succeed.
I’m voting for him because out of all the first-world countries, America’s health care is the most privatized, and I don’t like that.
I don’t think it’s the government’s place to forbid two people who love each other from getting married. I think taxes should increase in proportion to increases in income.
I want to protect the wilderness and I support our troops but I want them to come home.
I’m voting for Obama, and it has nothing to do with that dumb picture of him grimly staring into a laptop and spending an afternoon on Reddit.
His campaign is wasting time trying to reach out to the internet generation.
We don’t think Obama’s cool because he’s managed to infiltrate so many outlets of social media.
Those of us who do think he’s cool think so because we agree with what he stands for and we want to see him succeed for that reason alone, and those of us who don’t think he’s cool are probably just annoyed.
Bottom line is this: I’m personally on Obama’s side, but I think we can all agree that his internet escapades aren’t truly impressing anybody.
Sarah Moesta is a junior majoring in English and is the Daily Collegian’s Friday columnist. Email her at email@example.com