Social Media in Congress: Progressive or Invasive?


Audrey Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Since the early development of social media and cell phones; elders who find unreliable pigeon mail and immobile wall-mounted chunks of junk the almighty way to communicate have resisted technology. Whether it be grandparents, teachers, or senile strangers, the older generation has been anything but keen when it comes to accepting change. The people who have brutally  pillaged our economy, blatantly ignored climate change, and are held responsible for the fall of Americas once-strong manufacturing core must always be right. Right?

Politicians have historically been behind on the curve of technology. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner relays information letter by letter on an IBM Selectric II. Senator Lindsay Graham once claimed to have never sent an email.  For crying out loud, even senator Chuck Schumer has a flip phone. These old fashioned preferences, however luddite they may be, can seem charming. It’s cute even, until the same people who have never written an email are constructing the laws of our future, such as cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and even self-driving cars. 

There is a lack of urgency with veteran congressmen to become more technologically aware when these laws are at hand. But suddenly, freshman congress members have taken over social media, and those previous neigh sayers are all aboard the bandwagon.  Many members now use e-mail, official websites, blogs, YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms to communicate with their constituents—technologies that were not widely available just a few decades ago, when lots of senior members first took office. 

Some claim that social media can be a threat to political discourse as we know it. Maybe so, but would that really be the worst thing in the world? Watching Representative Ocasio-Cortez cook mac and cheese while discussing the crisis on the border on an instagram live video could be more entertaining than tuning into a formal news station with increasing distrust and biased. Representative Crenshaw’s simple explanation of the often confusing congress hearings and testimony over a few tweets creates a connection between citizens and the legislative branch never seen before. 

Republicans and democrats alike have done their fair share of criticizing social media outlets . Republicans go after the censorship of google and facebook, while democrats tend to blame various platforms for inappropriately aiding and abiding  in the election of Trump. They hate the media when it’s showcasing opposing beliefs, but when their point of view gets a few thousand retweets, they rejoice in a rise of approval ratings. As politicians, social media users, and citizens of the current day we have to learn how to take technology as it is, the good the bad and the ugly.