Selfies Are Turning Politicians Into Teenagers

Apr 17, 2014 3:55pm

Yesterday, Vice President Biden and his ultra-hip aviators debuted on Instagram.

And last night, the veep posted his inaugural selfie with social media superstar (and president of the United States) Barack Obama.

Pundits believe social media was instrumental in Obama’s 2008 win. Perhaps Biden’s recent foray into the social sphere is another sign that he is actually mulling a 2016 run.

Or perhaps he and other politicians who have co-opted the selfie trend are trying to prove that they’re just like the rest of us?

Perhaps they’re trying to reach millennials — an always sought-after voting bloc — who are spending less and less time browsing traditional media.

Or maybe they just want to prove that they are as hip as your average high school student.

But even as Biden takes the social world by storm, dozens of other lawmakers are rushing to the web to prove their social media savvy.

Is the slew of #selfies an example of political genius? Or are politicians just slowly sapping the cool out of social media?

“The exact moment when the selfie stopped being cool” is how the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza described Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal’s recent library selfie.

Admittedly, a library isn’t exactly the background that’s become popular on a platform full of beach shots.  Former Secretary of State and potential 2016er Hillary Clinton did a bit better. She recently tweeted out a selfie with Jimmy Kimmel. 

Republican Gov. Chris Christie, also considering a bid for the White House, later instagrammed a #TBT (for readers from the 19th century, that’s “Throwback Thursday”) of himself and Biden.    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., even joined Snapchat.

And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio., joined Vine (because nothing convinces constituents you’re right like hearing your six-second message on loop).

His office, apparently embracing the selfie trend, recently launched a #SelfieGuidedTour for constituents visiting the Capitol.

Compared to today’s tweens, these politicians were, admittedly, a bit late to the selfie party.

(Except for Gen. Colin Powell, who was snapping selfies before those tweens were even born:)

And then there are those who like to think of themselves as vertiable selfie pioneers like Georgia congressional candidate Allan Levene. On his website, Levene, who is vying for the U.S. House of Representatives from the state’s 11th Congressional district, recently bragged about a very specific selfie first: The first selfie taken halfway through a congressional debate in which he was a participant. True or not, Levene touted the pic in a press release, but didn’t bother posting it to social media. Nice try.

Unfortunately, like tweens, some congresspeople are prone to over-share.

 

Of course, like any technologically adept teenager knows, selfie-ing doesn’t come without risks.

The president faced criticism after he was spotted snapping a selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark PM Helle Thorning Schmidt at Nelson Mandala’s funeral.

 

And, of course, no one can forget Anthony Weiner’s infamous career-shattering twitter snapshot.

Whether today’s pols can safely navigate social media without giving the impression they’re trying too hard remains to be seen. But one thing’s certain — they seem determined to try.

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