Twitter is cool twist to modern politics

Published 5:14am Thursday, August 8, 2013

My column last week included a new facet to my options in reporting political news and holding our representatives in Washington responsible for their decisions.
See, it all sprang out of a Twitter exchange that I had with @RepMarthaRoby. To those of you a bit apprehensive about the newest social media flavor of the moment, I was once on that very same page.
But it’s hard to resist a fad, especially one that’s become obnoxiously promoted across all forms of media. When was the last time you saw a news crawler that didn’t feature a #hashtag or @BlanketyBlank Twitter handle?
So last week, as I was building up to one of my government surveillance rants, I dropped a tweet to our local congresswoman. It was mostly on a whim. But the thing is, Twitter lets you drop such a note to them that, unlike email, is out there for all to see. It’s an open letter in 140 characters or less.
And lo and behold, @RepMarthaRoby replied. Within the hour, if I recall. I reference Rep. Roby by her Twitter handle because, as with most Internet-related communications, there’s no way to know for sure if it was her, her press secretary Todd Stacy, the summer intern or the janitor.
But it sure seemed like Rep. Roby, having met her quite a few times. But like they say, “on the Internet, no one knows if you’re a dog,” so due caution seemed appropriate.
Turns out the public message space of Twitter, and the scads of people who follow their elected representatives, means politicians of all stripes and vintages are likely to listen when you fire a pointed question their way.
And if you should decide to, and can be succinct enough to spare the characters, there’s also the option of adding another handle or two, like @daviddgoodwin, @WetumpkaHerald or @EclecticObserve (I ran out of characters, so it’s an imperative sentence instead of a proper noun). Tag that on there, it’ll run on one of our feeds as well. I’m not going to say they’re well-followed, especially having seen the follower numbers of a few local high school students. But, it might add a little weight to what you have to say.
And, just to be clear, I’m not saying pick on Rep. Roby. The full extent of the Twitterverse is quite wide, and there’s always a chance your tweet to @BarackObama from your house on Fleahop Road might be noticed. And there’s always the chance no one’s asking the question, or sharing the personal story, that’s been weighing on your mind.
In this distraction-heavy world, with so many layers between us and the decision-makers of the political scene, if there’s anything that can shrink the playing field, it’s worth a shot.
Like my late boss once said, “I’m all a-Twitter.”
This has been an interesting month in my professional life. In case you haven’t heard, I’ve moved my computer and messy desk arrangement north to Alexander City, where the weekly Dadeville Record has become the newest community under my watchful eyes.
I wrote an introduction column for our sister papers, The Record and The Outlook, yesterday. So I thought it was time to share with you all my enhanced, occasionally harried, new role.
Getting to know the folks in Dadeville has been a pleasure, and I’ve already had a few good stories in The Outlook. But I wanted you in my home county to know I’m still around, and still lay my head and spend most weekends among my beloved Elmore-ons. The same old email addresses will reach me, and The Eclectic Observer is still a key part of my coverage area.
Keep in touch.

David D. Goodwin writes a weekly political column for The Wetumpka Herald.

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