Miley Cyrus endorsed Obama online whereas Lindsay Lohan came out for Romney. What does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Apparently more than one would think. There are articles all over the net deconstructing how Lohan’s endorsement of Romney will impact the presidential race.
I’ll leave this one to the pundits, but it is interesting that these types of endorsements are garnering so much coverage. Is it that there are just too many outlets now with not enough news, or is the definition of “news” being redefined as we enter a new media era? It used to be that newspapers, radio, magazines and network and cable TV drove the conversation. The traditional media set the talking points and defined the perspectives and points of view and shaped the stories. We’re now in the world of citizen journalists and social media. Twitter or Facbook not only distribute information, now they become stories in and of themselves.
But in this case it’s only citizen journalism to a point. It’s celebrity-citizen journalism. Lindsay posts a Tweet and you suddenly have a news story. But, as we all learned during the Palin era, the person who posts the story, doesn’t necessarily control it. Online PR approaches are very different from traditional media public relations campaigns. Online celebrities are talking directly to the public. At least ostensibly they are. Their posts or Tweets can take on a life of their own, one that doesn’t always enhance the image of the celebrity poster (for lack of a better term). The trouble with social media is I’m not convinced anyone truly understands exactly how it works or when it can backfire. It’s a continually moving target. Someone can be an online darling on Monday and be shot down in flames by Friday. It’s a precarious world to navigate. Simply because someone is a celebrity and has been continually highlighted in the media doesn’t mean he or she can control the inner workings of the online world. Celebrities are often the most vulnerable ones in this universe. They often have a somewhat naive take on how social media works, because they are used to a good deal of image control. On the net, the control lever is usually disconnected. It simply doesn’t work.
And this holds true for controversial or PR-oriented posts as well for posts as simple as “I endorse… (fill in the blank)”. Once a post is set free it takes on a life of its own. It can die a quick death or can build until it reaches critical mass, or it can be reworked, reinterpreted and in the end a type of social media Frankenstein monster can emerge.
I suppose that makes the online media world interesting, but not necessarily intelligible. Which brings us back to the online revelations that Miley likes Obama and Lindsay likes Romney. Does it really matter? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. Now as to Big Bird, that’s a whole other story.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012
“Lindsay Lohan endorses Mitt Romney for President.” Photo. Heavy. 12 Oct. 2012. 22 Oct. 2012. <http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/10/lindsay-lohan-endorses-mitt-romney-for-president/>
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