Hanging Out with President Obama on Google+

by Sharp | February 2, 2012

Before I found my place in public relations, I actually wanted to be a journalist. I went to college in Washington, DC where I pictured my future-self reporting from Capitol Hill, participating in meaningful and political dialogue, and really making a difference. I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but somewhere along the lines I became jaded with all the administrative hoopla and moved on to other interests.

However, this past Monday I felt that familiar pang of enthusiasm as I witnessed the first ever Presidential Google+ Hangout with President Obama, which acted as a “virtual town hall meeting.” Not only was it a remarkable first for social media, but when was the last time you—or any of us—felt a real exchange taking place with the President (or anyone in office?).

Throughout the Hangout, the most significant display of citizen/government interaction came from Jennifer Wedel, a 29-year-old mother of two living in Texas. Wedel focused her questions significantly on her husband, a professional engineer who has been out of a job for three years. She questioned Obama regarding H1B visas, the future of higher education, and how he intended to help the struggling middle class in America. No easy requests for Obama, he was still able to provide Wedel with what appeared to be genuine and honest answers.

Certainly this type of forum is the perfect platform for a charismatic and well-spoken president such as Obama. Beyond this, I think at a time when our country is going through some growing pains in its “rebellious youth”, it helps to have a connection or direct link with our leaders to establish a better sense of unity among U.S. citizens and to feel as though the government is there to listen and serve the people. As a result of this forum, Wedel, a self-proclaimed Republican, actually conceded that she would be voting for Obama this election year. How often does that happen?

It would be nice to see these types of public forums via Google+ or other social platforms take place more often. Social media has become such a regular part of our everyday lives, that we can take for granted the real genius of it at times. Think about it: The President of the United States of America, and five regular Joes…just “hanging” out.

What did you think about this first Google+ Hangout with President Obama?

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