Friday, September 05, 2008

The Facebook Election

When George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, facebook was only in it's infancy and available exclusively to Ivy league campuses. Oh what a difference four years can make. In April of this year, Facebook took over the top spot of social networking websites, knocking MySpace from it's throne. The latest figures lists facebook with 132 million unique users and is growing at a blistering 150% clip annually.

Facebook has changed the definition of a "friend" and has been a conversation catalyst for unlikely connections. The water cooler is no longer just down the hall, it's now easily around the globe. And a Presidential election has never seen the likes of this social networking phenomenon. People are "superpoking" each other by "throwing an Obama". Many are publicly declaring their voting preference for the world to see by displaying "Mccain" flair (a fake button you can place on your home page)or joining a group that supports one of the candidates.

And I have to wonder how this new commmunication frontier will effect the election. Obviously the different campaigns will do all that they can to exploit these sites. But what does it mean for the average facebook user. Will they be more informed? Will they have some of their assumptions challenged? Will they become shocked to find out who their friends are supporting or leaning towards?

What I have observed is that there are many of the same polarizing arguments and talking points with quicker comebacks thanks to google. And while the dialogue and arguments may still be similar to the past, the ability to join a conversation and engage in a spirited dialogue has never been better. Things are only getting heated up in this first Facebook Election and I'm looking forward to observing it...and throwing an occasional Palin.