Live Tweeting the State of the Union from the White House

I’ve lived in DC for only 12 days and already I’ve been inside the White House compound to be selected as part of an elite group of social media members to take part in The White House State of the Union Social.

I was selected as one of the 100 social media members to watch an enhanced screening of President Obama’s State of the Union Address live from the White House. Following the screening, we participated in a panel discussion with Administration policy advisors about the visions and policies presented during the speech. Really, is there a better “Welcome to DC” experience than hanging out with the executive branch in the White House compound?

Security was more disorganized than I expected but a lot less invasive, too. Thank goodness it was a beautiful winter night because they had us wait outside for 45 minutes. Security took our ID’s twice at separate gates while we waited for security clearance and to get our badge. Me, being the girl who makes friends and talks to everyone everywhere I go, met two girls while we waited outside. Turns out, one of the girls was likely in my recruitment group Freshman year at Indiana. It’s such a small world, isn’t it?

Once we got clearance, they directed us to the Eisenhower Executive Office. While we were waiting for President Obama to begin, I took a picture with the White House sign.

Sara and I just wanted a photo together with the White House sign but what we got was my favorite photo of the night. It was a complete coincidence and just good timing that this happened:

Oh you know, just the President looking down over us
Oh you know, just POTUS looking down on us

Once the State of the Union Address began, we all whipped out our devices and the tweeting and social media frenzy commenced. The Enhanced Broadcast was streamed live on the website but actually physically being in the room was an awesome experience. Despite the wifi being ridiculously slow, the energy in the room was exciting and electric and I felt like I was somebody to be. People reacted, laughed and clapped in unison. And together, we shared our experience with our followers. While on a bit of a delay for online viewers, the Enhanced Broadcast really made watching the SOTU so much more interesting. I don’t think I’ll ever watch on CNN again. (I hear they had split screens for the shooting?) They had infographics and factoids and all kinds of cool images. We were encouraged to take pictures and get our followers involved (obviously, that is why we were there.)

When discussing equality and equal pay, the Enhanced Broadcast showed the meme of the President and Mckayla Maroney doing the “Not Impressed” face together. Clearly they aren’t impressed by unequal opportunities and believe in equal rights for all. Between hosting the White House Social and the simple act of including the meme in the broadcast, it showed me that the administration is embracing change and social media and is accepting of the fact that things are evolving. It shows me progress. It shows me that our country isn’t rigid and stubborn and set in our pre-historic ways. It shows me that we will advance, not regress. It shows me that they are tuned into what is going on in the world outside of the political agenda.

Social media offers a way for everyday citizens to interact with the Administration and policy advisors, with The First Lady or POTUS, with celebrities and peers. It puts us all on even playing ground and gives the silent a voice. To be able to interact in this way is what makes social media so unique and impactful. This Administration is utilizing social media and giving citizens a way to be heard through things like State of the Union Social and an initiative called Citizens Respond. With Citizens Respond, you can go online to read the SOTU speech, dissect it line by line and discuss it with the President. This isn’t the first presidential address to the nation online as Clinton first did it back in June 2000. But it is just the beginning of social media playing a role in such monumental national and international events.

While delivering the SOTU, the President showed he is one of the greatest public speakers of our time. He showed that he is personable, playful and lighthearted. I like that even though the President was discussing very serious matters, he was able to make light of some situations by cracking a few witty jokes and smiling. His casualness through comments like, “Good job, Joe” or “Germans are job ready by HS graduation. Let’s do that.” or regarding climate change “send me that bill, Why would we be against that?” or even pushing fathers to be more than a sperm donor but to actually care to raise the child, really make me like him more. He showed his personality and as a citizen, I appreciate that about him.


The panel afterwards wasn’t so much of us participating as it was us asking questions and having the policy advisors answer them. There were too many questions (from in the room and online via Facebook, Google +, Twitter etc) and not enough time. I had a couple of questions prepared but never got the opportunity to ask them aloud.

It was such an amazing and unique experience to be a part of. So, for those that follow my personal Twitter account, I am sorry I’m not sorry for infiltrating your feeds with #SOTU #WHSocial tweets. I am so grateful that I was selected to be apart of this special group. I won’t share all of them here, but here are some of my favorite or most ReTweeted tweets from last night:

climate change

Chris Hardball tweetPOTUS is a funny man

minimum wageto be a dad - potusdeserve a voteScreen shot 2013-02-13 at 12.42.20 PMmarriage equality

Side notes or factoids that the Enhanced Broadcast shared or :

  • We saw 645k tweets last year and 1.1 million today during #SOTU Way to make history!
  • There were 24,000 tweets per minute during the #guncontrol portion of the #SOTU
  • I applaud the notion that President Obama wants to put our nation’s interests before the party agenda. This got the evenings first standing ovation.
  • I’m impressed that cyber security got a mention in the speech.

And I’m famous! But I sure hope that wasn’t my 15 minutes of fame. I was caught live on camera during the online Enhanced Broadcast #WHchat after the speech. It is proof I was paying attention and not picking my nose, incessantly tweeting or doing anything embarrassing. See me?! I guess my, “I’m paying attention” face makes me look very serious. I’ve got to work on that one…I'm famous at SOTU

I am honored that I got selected to be apart of this social media event. I can’t help but feel like my efforts as a community manager and social media member have been successful at making an impact on others. Being at this event made me so extremely proud that we reelected @barackobama. America, you like some weird stuff and I don’t always agree, but man, you got this one right! I am optimistic that the next four years will bring great progress and change. I think we are going to see tremendous outcry over controversial things, but I believe we are advancing and evolving as a nation, and  we are finally heading in the right direction.


Are news sources credible anymore?

Earlier this week, Nate St. Pierre, a friend of mine, posted on his blog a story of how he came to discover that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook in 1845. He tells a very elaborate story about his day and persuades the reader that he discovered something that could potentially make him enormously famous. (Spoiler: It is a hoax.)

Putting aside any historical facts, there were three surface red flags to me. 1) you cannot get from Wisconsin to Springfield, Illinois by lunch. 2) Why would the curator not have known about this already? 3) Who goes anywhere without their phone these days/why would you not go home to get it if you really found such a story?

So, I’ll be the first to admit it, I disregarded these flags (first mistake) and accepted the unlikely “facts” initially (and shared the story) because I trusted the source. (second mistake) I fully own the fact that I was wrong. It maddens me, not that I was gullible or that he fooled the Internet, but that I failed to question the data presented. Even worse than my amateur error, is that I wasn’t the only one who blindly took it to be true; even major news sources failed to fact check before spreading the story.

St. Pierre’s hoax went viral in under 3 hours. He got 16,000 Facebook likes and 104,463 Unique Pageviews on his site alone. Mashable and The Atlantic waited until after they did their homework to reveal that it was a hoax. However, other very reputable news organizations like CNN, Forbes Fark, Reddit, ycombinaton and more ran the piece blindly accepting it to be factually accurate. News outlets interviewed him and reporters were sent to Springfield for a story that didn’t exist. What kills me is that REPUTABLE AND TRUSTED NEWS OUTLETS DIDN’T FACT CHECK. Isn’t that what interns are for? What other stories have we been exposed to, and believed, that weren’t true?

I was a journalism major and one of the things we learned was the importance of fact checking your data and questioning the credibility of your source. We learned the importance of ethical reporting. I am kicking myself for forgetting my obligation as an educated journalist and failing to question the story.

This was a classic study of the power of the Internet and how stories both true and false can spread like wildfire. I realize I am just as guilty but I’m just a nobody blogger. It’s not to say that I, a little unknown blogger, have the right to publish lies, but I am not held to the same credibility standard as say, Forbes.

In this day and age, where virtually everyone is a reporter, how do we know who to trust?

With the invention of the iPhone, camera phones, and the Internet, everyone has the ability to create and share and become a ‘reporter’. And thanks to the Internet, we expect to get our news updated instantly 24/7. Have we become too trusting and ultimately too lazy to fact check?
Are we in such a hurry to be the first to break a story that facts no longer matter? Has the news lost all credibility?

Nate wrote a brilliant story that was perfectly executed. I hope it serves as a lesson and reminder to us all to question the validity of the story and the source, no matter who it is and not to blindly accept the articles that we read in print or online.

Did you see Nate’s article and if so did you share it? Do you think the news has lost its credibility?

To drive & vlog or not to drive & vlog? That is the question: An Open Discussion

Have you ever been looked over at the person in the car next to you and were shocked at what you saw? Ever had to swerve out-of-the-way to avoid being hit because they weren’t paying attention? I have seen some wild things, all very hazardous to not only the guilty driver but to others on the road, too. I have seen people putting on makeup/mascara, shaving, eating, picking their nose knuckle deep (not so much dangerous as it is gross/funny to watch), texting, putting clothes on, listening to music with headphones on, driving drunk, picking stuff up from the back seat or off the floor, taking pictures, or reading an old-school large foldable paper map, (seriously, people still use those?) as well as reading printed Mapquest directions.  Call me old-fashioned, a worry wort, up tight, whatever you want, but it frustrates me to see people putting other people’s lives in jeopardy because of their poor judgement. There are somethings that should be done at home and not in the car.  I won’t lie and say my hands are always at 10 & 2 but I do realize the severity of distracted driving.

Earlier this week, a fellow blogger posted on a topic that I want to open up for a discussion with my readers. I would love to hear what your opinions are on the matter.  I met Nate St. Pierre back in August at the 20sb Bloggers Summit in Chicago.  He is one of those people who immediately draws you in because he is that inspiring.  (Side note: In case you don’t know him, he has a fabulously wonderful company called Love Bomb where each week someone, who is going through a rough time, for whatever the reason, is selected to receive message of love, encouragement, hope etc.  Every week he is making an impact on someone’s life. It really is a beautiful thing. So if you aren’t familiar with it, check it out!)  But I digress.

So naturally, I started following his blog after we met. Nate is a vlogger and has recorded some of his videos while stuck in traffic.  His commute is nearly 3 hours a day so I understand the concept of making the most out of your time.  However, something about vlogging while driving bothers me and got me thinking.  Just how many people do this?  He isn’t the first person to record himself while driving. I noticed it during VEDA too. I think it is reckless to drivlog. You are not completely focused on the road and your reaction time is slower, even if you are only going 10 mph because you are not fully focused.  Holding the camera in one hand and the wheel in the other is no easy task. But is it safe? Can you really react at your utmost potential if you are looking into the camera you are holding? I don’t think so. If I were to see someone drivlogging, it would upset me because they are more focused on their video than on their surroundings and fellow drivers.  Is it worth the risk? It only takes one time to be distracted and there are plenty distractions out there, we don’t need to increase that on our own. That one distraction could be the difference between getting in an accident (albeit serious or not) or getting home safe.

If someone fender-bendered me and I found out that they were drivlogging, even if they were only going 5 mphs, I would be pissed.  I am not calling Nate selfish, but I do think that drivlogging is. What is the legal stand on this? I am pretty sure that the video could be used in court, should it get that far. Even if it wasn’t actually the vloggers fault, could they be seen as guilty for negligent driving?

So when Nate vlogged asking his viewers  if he should be drivlogging,  I wanted to contribute my thoughts.   He said, “Lately my ridiculously long commute has driven me (ha, see what I did there?) to video blogging in traffic. Should I be doing this? Yes or no, tell me what you think…” 

Apparently, I was the only one who commented on his post saying that I didn’t think it was a good idea.  To my surprise, most people were very supportive of vlogging while driving.  Realizing I was the only one, I became curious to know what more people thought about this topic.  Below is our thread from his post.

That is where you come in.  What are your thoughts on drivlogging? Do you think it is okay to drivlog? Have you done it? Seen others do it? Does speed matter? Is it okay if you are in a gridlock? Does it make a difference if your camera is mounted so that you are hands free? What other kinds of crazy things have you seen while driving?

Please share your thoughts, regardless if you agree with me or not. All I ask is that you please be respectful of others opinions. Thanks.

I’m all verklempt: Talk amongst yourselves…

Let’s get this discussion going!

P.s. I should copyright that term: Drivlog.