If the 2008 election taught us anything it’s that no candidate, maybe no citizen, can remain out of the loop any longer. We have at our fingertips the ability to communicate information so fast it almost seems unnecessary to have conversations about the stuff we see. A comment is almost beside the point when your friends point you to a YouTube link or your Facebook buddies post a link to a story. It is then a matter of days, hours, or seconds before everyone you know has heard about it. Except those who aren’t in the loop.
This proved especially beneficial this year, as millions of Obama supporters hashed it out online with a respectable core of McCain supporters who haven’t shunned technology the way their candidate has. But there was something spectacular about the way the Obama campaign used the ‘net and embraced technology, led by a candidate who not only gets it, but is as excited about it as you are. He isn’t afraid of the future because he represents the future.
But all of this got me thinking about information and how it brings us all together now. Sarah Palin said this in Pennsylvania, John McCain said that during his latest speech. The Daily Show dissects the gaffes, and their hilarious analysis is disseminated to millions. If you aren’t plugged into the information chain, you may be blissfully unaware of everything that’s going on in your world, but you will also be missing out on being part of it.
Those who cling to the world that existed before information became a ravenous beast perhaps rely on newspapers, or watch the nightly news, or listen to the radio. Eventually what is being spread like wildfire across the ‘net trickles down to the mainstream, but by then it’s old news. If you want to be in the loop, you have to make friends with our little machines.
As election night unfolded, the best place to follow the results was live television. CNN was made for this kind of coverage. It never stopped reporting the results, even during some of the commercials. But in 2008 it is almost dull to sit and watch the election on TV without having something else to do–specifically, not having a communication device in your lap.
That’s because we live at a time when everyone who chooses to be in the loop can participate in ways other than reading or listening: we can speak our minds 24/7 if we so choose. It is our ability to add to the dialogue that makes the time we live in unprecedented. Barack Obama was always the one of the two presidential candidates who seemed to get this. Not only does he have tech whizzes running his campaign, but he himself is intrigued by, and caught up with, technology. Obama is very much in the loop.
Meanwhile, conservative blogger and spinmeister Matt Drudge has seen his power at last diminished as Internet users turn to alternative sources for information. The Fox News of websites is no longer calling the shots, but is just one stop along the way. If you are in the loop you know that Drudge is entertaining but ultimately so slanted in his coverage he has become a bit of a joke. It is just too easy to see the other side now.
We have become a tight-knit global community that just gets bigger. We share information. We are all in the know. The candidates who represent us have to get this to get us.