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Cody Wyatt: Social Media and Democracy, Arkansas

As told by Cody Wyatt
Little Rock, Arkansas

Story Narrative:

A young woman with long brown hair and black and green t-shirt sits in a leather chair and talks to an interviewer.

Between December 2019 and January 2020 (just weeks before the pandemic), Smithsonian staff and their storytelling partners at the Peale, Baltimore, traveled to multiple states in the U.S. to ask residents of those states about voting experiences, the current state of American democracy, what issues brought them to the polls, how they made a difference in their communities, and what Americans' civic responsibilities were, among other complex questions.

Cody Wyatt (00:00): So, with this new wave of Facebook and Twitter and social media, and all of these different platforms for people to give their opinions, unfortunately, a lot of the time they think that it's just the negative one that they should put out. I mean, they love to get on the internet and vent, it seems like, and they have all these problems and no solutions.

(00:21): And the way I see it affecting elections on any level is, I can sit there and post something bad about someone who's running in the election that I don't like, and someone who might look up to me, someone younger or even older sees that post and they're like, "Oh, well, I'm going to follow what she does now," rather than doing their own research and realizing what the platform is for that certain candidate and voting their heart or voting their conscience on it.

(00:51): But it's also such a great thing because social media is reaching way more people than newspapers do nowadays. I mean, even TV, no one's really even watching TV at my age anymore. And so it's been an amazing thing that you can go live on a video and thousands of people jump on and watch immediately, and they're impacted right there in that moment. And that's something that's never been available before. And so the outreach is amazing, but sometimes the content of what people are posting in regards to elections can be toxic.

Asset ID: 2023.02.04.c-d
Themes: Social Media, Media, News, Elections, Misinformation, Research, Digital Literacy, Digital Outreach, Reactions, Toxicity
Date recorded: December 4, 2019
Length of recording: 0:01:24
Related traveling exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Arkansas Humanities Council, Little Rock
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