Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tips on using social media are the lesson we all need

This is called a “selfie.”
This is called a “selfie.”
Image: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
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Superb social media fluency is one of the many things that catapulted freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into political superstardom. Both on the campaign trail, and now—on her 16th day in the House of Representitives—she uses tools like Twitter and Instagram to spread her message, humanize the workaday experience of political office, and occasionally take down a patronizing fellow lawmaker.

It appears her skills are in high demand, and yesterday (Jan 17.), she said (in a Tweet, of course) that she was giving lessons to her Democratic colleagues on how to use Twitter and other social media platforms:

ABC News reported that the lawmaker from New York’s top tip is “to be yourself and to really write your own tweets so that people know it’s you talking.” She also offered some encouragement to older colleagues, noting that “social media is not just for young people,” and praising 93-year-old former Congressman John Dingell for his Twitter chops.

Ocasio-Cortez herself boasts a cool 2.46 million followers on Twitter, and shared a solid selection of tips for using it with colleagues, per ABC:

On being yourself: 

  • “Don’t try to be anybody who you’re not.”
  • “If you’re an older woman, talk like an older woman talks.”

On internet etiquette and literacy: 

  • “If you don’t know what a meme is, don’t post a meme.”
  • “Sometimes the culture here is to fit in and keep your heads low.” But “we don’t want to separate ourselves” from constituents on social media.
  • “Mute people but try not to block them.”

On acting like a human, not a robot: 

  • “Social media is not a press release. It’s not a press conference.”
  • “It’s not the kitchen that’s popular, or the cooking that’s popular, it’s that I’m engaging people doing something I’m already doing.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s colleagues in the House aren’t the only ones trying to figure out how to present themselves on social media. Recently, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren was mocked online after awkwardly cracking a beer on Instagram live following the announcement of her 2020 presidential bid. Meanwhile, potential 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke bizarrely Instagrammed a routine teeth-cleaning while discussing politics:

And of course, we can’t forget the commander in chief, and his polarizing Twitter presence. While US president Donald Trump is not on Instagram, his Twitter is routinely riddled with choppy grammar, bizarre typos, and false statements. But despite all this, he has arguably been an incredibly effective user of the medium. Megan Garber pronounced in the Atlantic this week that “Donald Trump is, meaningfully, the first of the internet presidents”:

He embodies some of the core logics of the internet as a medium: He presents, through his angry and smirking and sometimes typo-laden tweets (before he bragged about “1000 hamburgers” on Tuesday morning, he boasted of the same amount of “hamberders”), a version of transparency. He responds to Americans’ fatigue with institutions by insisting that he is a one-man show.

Put another way: He’s following Ocasio-Cortez’s advice, and—for better or worse—being himself.