After reading Wood et al.’s article on celebrity political leadership (2016), I have reflected deeply upon my own perspective as a voter, realising that I have also fallen for these marketing campaigns. I don’t know how to feel about it. Should I feel treated as a ‘sheeple’ who follows a leader who is only pretending to be more human? Or is the leader just adapting to the new reality and communicating with the public in new ways?
In the social media age it is impossible to maintain a one-way relationship with an audience. Celebrity status means constant interaction with the community through tweets, videos or Facebook posts. This new form of interaction isn’t fake or unrealistic, it’s just leaders trying to adapt to the new reality their faced with.
In my opinion this is a positive thing, because it means that hiding information is much harder. Brainwashing is no longer a possibility if there is multiple, free forms of communicating. If a leader pronounces something false on TV, that will be reflected directly all over social media. Social media is able to question information and shed a different kind of light on current issues. Leaders must be more truthful, as they are being observed and examined from many different angles on social media.
I think this can be dangerous, however, as it can lead to a different kind of brainwashing, by giving the public exactly what it wants It reminds me of the Orwell vs. Huxley comparison of dystopian futures.
Leaders used to be able to make the population believe anything because sources of information were very limited, however nowadays leaders are constantly being examined by social media. This can be dangerous because expertise in social media is a growing skill. If a leader learns to harness this expertise, it can be used to influence public opinions in ways never achieved before.
- Wood, H., Corbett, J. & Flinders, M. (2016). Just like us: Everyday celebrity politicians and the pursuit of popularity in an age of anti-politics. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 1-18.
- Huxley Vs. Orwell: The Webcomic. [Online]: https://biblioklept.org/2013/06/08/huxley-vs-orwell-the-webcomic-2/