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Between data privacy concerns and mounting government scrutiny, politicians enter murky water whenever they use TikTok. But it’s the cringe factor that’s often their ultimate downfall.
Take former President Barack Obama sitting down to mimic the format started by user @underthedesknews, who shares news updates from the floor. The obviously scripted bit from earlier this week was meant to encourage people to get out and vote in the midterm election as the camera zooms in and out at random moments.
But people were quick to call it “painful.” Some of the pushback, of course, comes from conservatives who will mock any move the former president makes.
Still, there were plenty of non-conservative people who found the video jarring. Or as one commenter responded, “yikes.”
From the stilted script to the awkward body language, the video shows just how out-of-touch politicians can appear on TikTok. It’s the perfect distillation of the “how do you do, fellow kids” conundrum: trying to appease young people, aesthetically, only makes the generational divide more distinct.
Sure, the occasional politician manages to blend in with the platform’s crowd. In his 2020 quest to become senator of Georgia, Jon Ossof successfully hopped on trends—and gained an intense following on the app. Rhode Island State Senator Tiara Mack has also utilized the app to engage with young voters. And local politicians have found some success in reaching their communities through the platform.
But even then, not every young politician is capable of adapting to the whims and fancies of the notoriously cutthroat platform. Just look at Beto ORouke half-heartedly shaking his hips for a chance to flirt with TikTok virality. One commenter pointed out his use of the “millennial pause” and summed up their thoughts with the skull emoji. And this is a candidate who’s by and large popular among Gen Z.
According to UC San Diego Political Science Professor Thad Kousser because people are drawn to TikTok’s perceived authenticity, seeing a congressional candidate awkwardly hijack a thirst trap is definitively inauthentic.
So too are videos that are clearly scripted and approved by a communications team that so often don’t fully grasp the language of the internet.
Perhaps then, before a politician jokingly attempts to order a negroni sbagliato, it might be best for them to test the video with some teens. Or, at the very least, hire someone who can adequately capture all the nuances of a trending Taylor Swift lyric. - Kristin Snyder
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What We’re Reading...
- The great mass culling at Twitter has begun, with half the workforce expected to be told via email they've been laid off.
- Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator and HACLA launched Good2GoBikes, aimed at making ebikes affordable for low-income residents.
- Swedish EV tech company Einride plans to put their e-truck charging stations around the Port of Los Angeles in 2023.
- Biomind Labs is claiming success with their inhalable psychoactive DMT formula. FDA approval pending.
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