We all know that politicians are passionate people. Sometimes they are irritatingly and stubbornly so, but they demonstrate passion, nonetheless. What many of us fail to remember is that they are people too, and not just political robots pushing agendas. Remember how when we were young, encountering a teacher in the supermarket was an earth-shattering event? That's because we didn't consider teachers to be real people at the time. They were teachers. Of course they live at the school, and reanimate when the school bell rings. Now that we are all grown up, some of us, now teachers ourselves, realize the truth that they have families, and go grocery shopping, and lead relatively normal lives outside of the school building. Even though that realization has hit home, we still find ourselves hung up on the notion that politicians reside in their offices or private jets, 24/7 and have no interests outside of politics. Well, that assumption is also wrong. Sometimes, politicians do not want to talk about politics. Though the subject demands creativity, it often lacks humor. They would rather engage in outlets for their non-political interests and discuss issues that are not on the ballot. So brace yourself, because someday you may be shocked to encounter politicians on your favorite social media site.
I personally know a couple of politicians. They are not senators or congress-people, but politicians, nonetheless, where we live. They are cool people with shared interests. We sometimes will have a social discussion over coffee about big-ticket issues, but also maybe about which cities we've traveled to, how their sports bracket is holding up this month, or what long-lost friend has recently texted unexpectedly. Sure, open forums are not necessarily the proper platform for all of these important issues, but honestly, they are fantastic places for you, your neighbors, your book club, your politicians and world leaders to get together and have interactive discussions about something engaging, meaningful, and perhaps non-political.
Receiving input from someone with a different social, educational, professional and geographical background than you can be impressively refreshing (whether inspiring or frustrating). Social media has revolutionized the way humans communicate with one another. As it advances, it also is a game-changer for media, marketing and politics, as well. But the online discussion format introduces a unique and interactive way to discuss hot topics, become informed, and influence politics. What better way to make your voice heard than by discussing a key issue with someone you have been interacting with for months. Perhaps that person is a politician, and is inspired by the discussion and the way your position is presented. Perhaps this indirectly influences political participation and electoral campaigns. The media landscape has changed significantly, and gives us the opportunity to engage in real-time commentary about issues that are important to us, whether they are on a political agenda or not. But this social participation seems to remove the barriers that we have otherwise erected between us and them. Interact. Get political. Politicians are people, too!
Kayla Olsen is a freelance writer with a limited tolerance for how much real-time commentary about real life can be discussed online. Thank goodness for intelligent discussion sites such as http://www.tawkers.com.