Op-ed: Social media has hijacked this election

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Americans’ desire for entertainment has turned this presidential election into a reality show.

Millennials are currently facing the most dramatic election of their lives between two candidates who became the butt of a joke the moment they were chosen as their party’s nominee.

Thousands of memes sprung up the moment Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump entered the race for president, making a mockery of the integrity of a presidential election and focusing on superficial elements of both candidates.

The joke is on us. The constant online meme-making, bickering, joking and debating has taken the power out of our hands and into theirs.

Our love for entertainment has fed both of these candidates.

Trump’s popularity quickly rose from 27 percent to nearly 50, and Hillary’s has been similarly growing in a positive direction.

Something else that has been growing in popularity? Hashtags like #DumpTrump, #ImWithHer, #NastyWoman and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain have been used over 100,000 times, according to Twitter’s log. The candidates themselves have 10 million followers each on the social media website.

The effects of this “trending” election will be detrimental.

Pew Research Center has reported that 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media. That means over half of potential voters are being influenced by memes, tweets and friend opinions this election year.

While the ability to share brings us closer together, it also has created a dangerous mentality that thrives on entertainment over substance.

Instead of feeding our own constant need for shock, scandal and humor, we could be sharing information about third-party candidates, local elections, or actual issues on the ballot that have a greater effect on daily life.

The power of social media in this election is undeniable. More people have registered to vote than ever before in history.

Utilizing that power toward knowledge rather than entertainment could have meant the difference between a dignified election and another episode of Keeping Up with the Kandidates.

Luckily that episode ends today.

by Brittney Miles

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