5 Things Politicians Shouldn't Say When Discussing the Internets

I came across a Fast Company story about the top tech blunders by politicos over the years this weekend and cringed as I read it. At this point you've either got to be blissfully stupid or pointedly ignoring (case in point, Elliott Naishtat) new forms of technology in order to have these kinds of slip ups.

Not to fear, my fearless leaders! I decided to put together a little list of my own. I call it "5 Things Politicians Shouldn't Say When Discussing the Internets." Because, obviously, ten things and their website URL would be too much for them to remember.

1. Don't put "the" in front of, well, the anything.

Google, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare...the list goes on. All of these things aren't objects like the family dog, they're brands. Think of it like this: You wouldn't say "I'm going to go watch the NASCAR," would you? What about "I wonder if the Versace designed this dress?"

2. Nothing is plural.

Think about it. You're better off dropping the 's' if you don't quite know. To quote an old horseback riding saying, "When in doubt, leave it out."

3. "Webpages" are no longer part of our web-speak.

Webpages were something you had in 1995. So please stop saying "Facepage."

4. Know how to tell people where to find you online.

Do not pull a Joe Biden and show all of America that you don't even know what a website is (he actually asked an aide on live TV, "Do you know the website number?"). Your website, Twitter account and YouTube account (if you have one) should all be memorized like you'd memorize a talking point because this is a talking point.

5. If you don't know, don't pretend.

If someone asks you a question about the internets, the Google or the Twitters, and you have no idea how to answer, then just admit it. The YouTube video later on will be way less interesting that way, which guarantees no one will watch it.


Speaking of YouTube videos, no one who ever made a viral YouTube video set out to make a viral YouTube video. Do not declare that you think something will go viral, as it most likely won't and what's more, it contradicts with the nature of the viral video. You can set out to make a good video that will be accepted and enjoyed by many. But the videos that truly go viral are the ones that had the least amount of expectations. Here's one for you -- this was once the most-watched video of all time on YouTube, and has about 221,500,000 views. Trot this little internet lore out at your next fundraiser! You'll be a hit.


2 Response to "5 Things Politicians Shouldn't Say When Discussing the Internets"

  • Rebecca Says:

    Ah Rachel,
    This one made me laugh out loud several times. I'll take all these suggestions to heart. But what about the knowing ironic use of "the interwebs" and similar phrases? We do so love to be deliberately out of it
    Rebecca (anonymous teacher-turned-politician)

  • Mean Rachel Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Rebecca, and good question. You actually get bonus points for using terms like "the interwebs" ironically. But, please. Make sure your audience knows you're being ironic. :)