Image from Arnold’s TwitPic
Of course I’m now writing about Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. I had a bit sleepless night the other night and just happened to begin to surf in Twitter when I accidentally bumped into his Twitter account.
It was so funny to read through his Tweets, the status updates from garage sales etc, and at the same time I begin to feel how social media sometimes at its best can make the world seem a bit smaller, closer and more horizontal place.
Let’s face it, Arnold himself most likely has more urgent things to do than Tweet about every move he makes, but the way how a political figure can tend to people and point messages to those he has visited is really a cool way of communication and talking back to your followers. For example, when there’s an update like ‘Can’t wait to see the CA garage sale!’ and then a picture in Twitpic of it, it can really make people feel, if they follow Twitter of course, closer to Arnold and like his visit had some meaning.
But, we also have a bit darker side to this all. When you really think of it, is this kind of Twittering just a clever game to make people like you more and thus get you more votes when the time comes? Not just in Arnold’s case, but overall with political Twitter accounts.
When you are in Twitter and write ‘I do this and that’, people tend to feel that you are actually talking to them [and not your Twitter expert of communications]. I’m not saying that people always actually believe so to be, but they may sometimes feel so. So in this case I have to question; can this be just clever mind manipulation of the next level or really a genuine conversation channel?
I don’t have answers for these, it’s too early for that, but I can say this: the situation puts more challenges on how attentive we have to be with messages we get from media.
I’d like to be optimistic and say this kind of communication makes things better, but I also believe that we have to work for it to do so. When there’s a new medium of using information, it always means that there’s also a new instrument of using power. And when there’s an effective new instrument of power, there’s most likely people trying to exploit it.
I don’t want to use Arnold as a bad example here, it just happened to be his account that I stumbled on when I thought about these things. I actually respect what he has achieved, no matter how some people may laugh at him. Show me another person who has won almost everything there is to win in bodybuilding, has done a career in acting with an impact that will stay most likely forever [just a single ‘I’ll be back’ already did it, which is actually also an achievement of some kind] and is now a Governor of California. And this all as a foreigner.
And by the way, I also think having the sword in his office is a cool thing.