Obama's Reddit AMA was a gimmick, but it was a brilliant one. The juxtaposition of both candidates preaching to their respective choirs — Obama on Reddit, Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa — shows that Obama and his team are still leaps ahead of the Republicans when it comes to campaigning on the internet. After the AMA, Obama's campaign put up a web page to collect Redditor email addresses, complete with a photo of the president in very Reddit style: "IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES," reads the overlaid text. "DOES AN AMA."
Meanwhile, news broke elsewhere that the Romney campaign will be the first political campaign to buy a Twitter trending topic. "Wants to win the internet," the Reddit photo of Romney might say. "Buys a hashtag."
Without delving into any specific political discussions, I cannot help but highlight the divergence in tone between Mr. Obama's visit to Reddit and the ongoing Republican National Convention in Florida.
Yesterday morning, as I sifted through my Facebook News Feed, I was disheartened to happen across a near-endless supply of vilified hate speech directed toward the President of the United States. Harking upon misguided and unfounded inaccuracies as the foundations for unintellectual arguments, there was a deplorable tone engrained in an utterly uninformed and one-sided discussion.
With this in mind, as the news began to trickle out suggesting that President Obama was to make an appearance on Reddit, I felt somewhat pessimistic. Although there was a certain romantic novelty to the concept, I saw it as little more than — in Ms. Jefferies' words — a "gimmick."
And yet, what proceeded to occur was not politically charged or uninformed, it was just fundamental exuberance that the President of the United States — regardless of party or policies — was visiting a well-known corner of the Internet. Often a chasm of disenchanted rifts and angry voices, the Internet somehow felt like more of a small town for an all-too-brief time yesterday.
Whether this was Mr. Obama's intention or not, it was undoubtedly a moment of uplifting and unifying positivity. Or, in many respects, it was a definable instance of a President being truly Presidential. An instance standing at utter odds with the perceived result of the Republican National Convention.
I do not wish to descend into any political discourse. But, as someone with a vested interest in measured, pleasant, and positive discussion, I know which example of political maneuvering I prefered, and it most certainly did not occur exclusively in Florida. It happened yesterday afternoon for anyone with an Internet connection.