For better or worse, there’s no separating politics from social media these days.
In today’s digital world, politicians leverage social networks to reach wider audiences than traditional media and certainly than campaign events would ever allow. You’ll find plenty of political debates on Twitter and carefully curated shots on Instagram.
But for State Rep. Gene Wu, a Houston Democrat, one platform in particular has served as a medium to not just reach voters, but also educate Texans across party lines about the functions of state government. Wu joined the Standard to talk about his time on Reddit and how he navigates using the platform. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: You’ve chosen to go on Reddit and post videos about what, exactly, and why?
Gene Wu: Well, I’ve been on Reddit or just kind of lurking in the background for many, many years. And I just decided, after watching people comment on things and just not understanding sort of the basic functions of government, I said to myself, “you know what, I need to help fix this.” And so I started making videos about how the Texas Legislature works and how laws are made and sort of like demystifying the process.
Very interesting. I know I can understand that a lot of politicians would want to sort of take an explicitly political or maybe even campaign message online. Is that sort of your approach or is this something, more broadly speaking, about educating the public?
Well, I think because of the nature of Reddit and each social media platform, it’s different. The nature of Reddit is that people tend to be more incisive, more detail-oriented, sort of like people dig deep into a subject matter and then present evidence. And so it’s not really practical or even good to just go on there and start spewing a partisan agenda. I think if you come in saying, “here’s factual information. I’m trying to make it as unbiased as I can, but, you know, I have my own personal biases.” People respect that and people are willing to listen. Even people on the other side are willing to at least stop in and say like, “what is the actual truth and how do we use this?”