Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday Reflections: Hillary Voters Still Low Information? Reactive?

It is that social media and the internet encourage knee-jerk responses.  The speed with which we can access information on Facebook and Twitter, not to mention newsfeeds in email inboxes, bombards us in ways even cable TV news never did.  It is so convenient to favorite, share and even fill in the little blank box and hit post.  Maybe it gives us a false sense of knowledge and involvement.  In seven plus years of blogging about Hillary Clinton and sharing the posts on social media I have noticed a trend - or at least what might be a trend. People don't read.

Dealing with paper-and-ink press presented a challenge.  We used to have to buy several morning papers and physically turn the pages and go through them to find the news stories we sought. It was labor-intensive and time-consuming.  Today, it is easy to join Facebook groups, follow media on Twitter, and set up newsfeeds on particular topics from news sources.  The work is done for us.  We do not need to do the searching.  Yahoo, Google, the New York Times, and the social webs do that work for us.  Electronic subscriptions have taken the challenge away, and we have feeds providing the information.

I have subscriptions like that, and some time ago had to train myself not to react to headers that caught my attention for good or ill.  The devil - or angel - might be in the details - and the effort, once again, became more time-consuming than simply skimming the headlines.

As a blogger and pretty active user of other social media, I have noticed that reactions in comment threads sometimes miss the mark - the point I was making in the post.  In cases like this I have responded by asking whether the person had actually read the post.  Occasionally a truly sincere and honest person will admit not having done so and then reverse the original reaction.  More often I get a doubling down accompanied by a variety of false accusations:  I am a Republican (no registered Democrat my entire life); I am sexist (from one extreme to another); I am ignorant; I need to change my writing style (this from someone who later admitted never reading anything but headers).  It goes on.  Everything short of accusing me of being a witch.

So on the Sunday after Halloween I will admit that I spent Halloween night reading some of Hillary's emails that were released on Friday, posted about a few exchanges that I found interesting, and deliberately lured innocent victims to respond with provocative headers that were bait as surely as Reese's peanut butter cups might be in the hands of the wicked hag trying to lure innocent children into her oven.  Yes, I did that. And some bit, but this was not meant as an exercise in "gotcha" blogging.

The archives here are filled with the words and work of Hillary Clinton.  They are here to attest to her almost overwhelming qualifications as a leader.  The blog is here as a place where people can come to find those words and that work.  It is discouraging to try to work with people who steadfastly resist information.  Sloganeering is fine for bumper stickers and Twitter hashtags, but I must admit frustration with those whose attention span does not extend beyond 140 characters.  How can you be an informed voter when you cannot get through a moderate read?

I see Hillary's campaign trying to address this population with tweets, memes, short videos and even GIFs.  But I still feel frustration with the reactive nature of a lot of the support. There is a formula.  How to get a reaction: use the words "emails," "Benghazi," "criminal + Clinton," or "server."  That formula does not draw readers.  It draws a reaction. It appears that many whose profile descriptions include the word "activist" engage less in activity than in reaction.

The question is how to draw readers to her words.  I do not know the answer, but I do know that I am not the only person frustrated that some people do not read.  In fact they refuse to.