The Power Of Social Media

things happening THERE and having an impact HERE


For everyone who hates talking about politics, finds talking about politics boring to such a degree that you almost break your jaw from yawning, or doesn’t care full stop, I’d like to say that what’s going on in the U.S.A. is more than just politics.

I find it pretty interesting on so many different levels.

Here is what I think.


First of all, let me say that personally, I’d vote for Bernie Sanders.


Higher taxes for a better social welfare and health care system, tuition-free colleges and universities, quality education, and a government who takes global warming issues serious should be given standards. These are just a few points Bernie Sanders stands for.


Yet we distrust an old scarecrow looking man who speaks like a communist because we have been taught, “clothes make people” and that communists are evil.


I might live in Japan, far away from what is happening in the States but one way or the other the result of this presidential election WILL have an impact on me.


Though a lot of times due to powerful lobbies and very powerful men pulling the strings in the background the U.S. President’s hands are tight, he/she still holds a key position when it comes to shaping the countries general attitude and structure, as well as influencing the world through international agreements.


What he/she decides on how to approach the Syrian problem, the role of the U.S. in the Middle East, security standards across the nation, the refugee and immigrant issues, as well as facts on global warming will reach me in waves here in Osaka, Japan. And since I have family in Germany and Turkey, any decisions related to those countries will have an impact on me as well.


Whether I want to believe it or not, if I decide to fly to the States after November 8th 2016, how I will be treated at the airport there, will probably depend on who has won the elections.


If it’s Ted Cruz or Donald Trump I’ll be screwed. I’ll probably have to spend at least half a day in police custody because the lady at the security check thought I gave her attitude when she had to ask me twice to take off my shoes only because I didn’t understand her thick southern accent the first time she asked.


If it’s Hillary Clinton then security check will not only want my fingerprints but also count ALL my birthmarks.


And if it’s Bernie Sanders then I can imagine that even though I have to go through the security check process customs services will be friendly to the extend that he/she will wish me a pleasant stay. Maybe.



social media


On another note, we all know the impact of social media on all of us. The Arab Spring and how the power of human connections online through tweets and YouTube videos helped overthrow governments is a good example for that.


But only after I’ve seen the change of attitude towards Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump on Facebook over the last few months, it fully struck me how fascinating and terrifying at the same time the power social media can be.


At the beginning Sanders was more or less an outsider, someone with funny hair, whose speeches were utopian like messages.

Trump didn’t seem that much of a threat. A funny clown who has “the balls to tell it like it is”.  

Clinton was depicted as the experienced politician, who knows how to play the game and who’d fit the role of a president the most.


Things changed over time though. Thanks to many late night TV hosts, comedians, actors/actresses, and people who cared so much about the political landscape that they made little video clips they posted on Facebook and other social media, more and more Americans and people around the world could witness …


… How Hillary is just playing along. What she says has no soul, no heart. She says what she knows people want to hear.


… That Trump is not only funny but also dangerous. And some finally understood that it was time to stop laughing about this guy because his methods, his messages, his hate are a door straight to fascism.


And that every little successful step Bernie has had over the last few months has been posted online by his fans and followers. His caring, kind and peaceful way in little gestures and speeches have been roared into the world.

Like a Disney character he attracts little birds to his podium.





One should not be fooled though.


First, any powerful tool can be used either in a good or bad way. The same counts for social media.

In this case I’ve witnessed how Facebook helped Bernie get out his messages and make huge successful steps in winning at caucuses.

The more they point out his wins, the more we are ready to believe in his success.


And suddenly we don’t think his stormy hairstyle reminds of a Hippie.

No! People have started thinking of his hairstyle as a cool trademark.


Second, Bernie is far from being perfect! For example, the fact that he defends the NRA (National Rifle Association) and that his speeches about equality don’t reach all people shine quite a different light on him.


I’m not sure if he could have gotten so far without social media. I personally doubt it.


The sad truth is that we make up our minds based on images created for us. These images can make or break things.

But what if those images were produced by “bad” people? By people with intentions that only serve THEM and their beliefs? By people with extreme views?


I'm not just talking about the presidential candidates here. I mean this in a more general way.


My wise history teacher once said that anything extreme – good or bad – is ultimately something ill natured.

I believe that there is truth in that.


As I said at the beginning: From all presidential candidates I’d choose Bernie Sanders and I’m glad he exists and fights but I don’t agree with everything he stands for and I take the posts on Facebook that support him so extremely with a grain of salt.


Let me put it this way …


The French Revolution was merely a series of events dictated by a hungry mob. The fact that we teach school children today that the revolution was driven by great men with glorious ideas about human rights is because we pick parts of historical episodes and put them together in a way that gives meaning to us.


It makes total sense that a hungry mob is not as charming and selling as glorious ideas.


The scenario of a bird flying on Bernie Sander’s podium is a cute but fairly unspectacular episode. But when you add comments and music to the video clip, edit it right, post it a billion times on facebook and compare Sanders to other politicians and what evil birds THEY attract to their podium, then you have a completely different and powerful story.



I'm glad that the same social media techniques have worked to show what a ridiculous man Trump is and what kind of dangerous path he would be taking us. 


People don’t like dry facts. People like good stories.

That’s how things are and how things always will be.

I’m not any different. I get drawn into those stories. I guess that’s pretty human.

What I try to do though is to be aware of being pulled into a story, so that I know that I need to pull myself out of it again in order to be able to see the WHOLE picture and not just pieces of a story someone has arranged for me.

This rule of thumb I use counts for Sanders, Cruz, Trump and Clinton as much as for anything else in my life.