No, you didn’t accidentally read a leaked chapter name from a secret, unreleased Philip K, Dick novel, and I wouldn’t blame you for confusing the two, but last week Monday (01/11/16) the White House, the single most powerful institution in the United States, officially joined the ranks of abstract (and realism) phallus photographers and angst-y tweens that crudely free-hand Justin Beiber into their high-school prom photos, by creating an account on the hit smartphone/tablet app known as Snapchat.
The obvious irony of an administration attempting to best the 24-hour news networks by announcing future budget hearings and political debates in a format that only allows mere seconds of viewership is palpable (like those Godzilla spikes I drew on my mother’s head during the holidays. Man, that Snapchat was a hit).
But, in all seriousness this unprecedented move begs one very important question: (like last night’s mistake) what service do I need to join in order to get away from the creepy-ass government?
Secondly, and almost as important: what does this mean for the future of politics?
President-to-be Barrack Obama already ruffled the political landscape’s slimy feathers during the lead up to the 2008 presidential election when he used social media, satire and disestablishment art as a strong tool in order to secure the youth vote.
He has continually proved he is much more like that cool English teacher that actually wants you to graduate high-school as apposed to that creepy uncle that owns a Hoverboard and Ray-Bans, and you only see him at thanksgiving (he’s like 40-years-old and has no wife or kids and always wants you to come over and play Xbox).
In recent years President Obama has appeared on daytime, and nighttime TV shows, internet webisodes of “Between Two Ferns” and “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” and has killed it, metaphorically, at the White House correspondence dinner when he brought onstage his anger translator Luther, a character from the Comedy Central series “Key & Peel,” to say what any dignified world leader cannot say aloud.
The White House announced in a blog post (you read that correctly) that the addition of Snapchat to its social media arsenal was a part of its strategy of “meeting people where they are” and as furthering its efforts to provide Americans with a “multitude of ways to engage with their government.”
One of the White House’s first posts was a video featuring a bowl of apples on a coffee table in the Oval Office. Edgy stuff.
Already a social media Goliath, the White House’s official accounts on other sites have drawn millions of followers, including more than 8.6 million on Twitter and about 1.6 million on Instagram.
Furthermore, President Obama reached over 1 million followers in mere hours when he launched his @POTUS Twitter account in May of 2015.
He currently has nearly 5.8 million followers.
It makes sense, in a strange dystopian kind of way. This is the reality we live in. As the millennial generation continues to surpass the baby boomers in populace we are going to see more and more tech-savvy communication outreach attempts.
Ten years ago no one imagined that today, in our very hands we would be able to connect to the internet, have free long-distance calling, video chat, real-time weather radar imagery, sports updates, social media and video games all in one device with a 10-hour (or more) battery expectancy.
As the public eye is stretched thinner and wider our leaders-in-office need a way to connect and inform; feed the important bits of information they want us to know while filtering out everything else. This is a step in that direction (minus the cynicism).
Imagine standing in the voting booth (if it hasn’t already been reduced to an online survey) and your phone vibrates against your leg and you see a snapchat saying something like “Vote for supreme leader cheezburgerface” or “don’t forget, we have your GPS location right this second” and your like “hey, I think I will vote for this guy instead.”
That could be our future.
Or it could be something as harmless as a bowl of apples.
It’s up to the next administration to decide whether or not to play ball and follow current positive trends, or throw it all in the hole and go the more conservative route (mainly propaganda peddled by media magnates that control mostly every form of advertising and “news” we see as a collective nation).
The future looks bright, if not a bit sketchy (art pun intended).