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Word of Mouth

The OTHER State of the Union, #SOTU


If you're sitting on the couch alone watching an event like the State of the Union, you can feel less alone if you follow its hashtag on Twitter, a lot less alone. It’s your choice, really, whether you want to join the conversation, and I (as Word of Mouth) didn’t necessarily plan to last night, but it can be kind of hard not to tweet about what we might say if we were on the air at that moment.  

Take that shot of the President flanked by Joe Biden and John Boehner. Yes, it looked like the VP and Speaker did perhaps coordinate their outfits, but the Technicolor tableau also prompted me to tweet, “I wonder if Crayola is adjusting their “Flesh” colored crayon as they watch this.” And I wasn’t the only one…the tweeter for Vanity Fair seemed to be focusing solely on the aesthetic of #SOTU too, tweeting, “So embarrassing…all the Supreme Court Justices...are wearing the same thing!” Not to mention the many, many tweets about Hillary's #SparklyHeadband.

One of the fun things about being on twitter during #SOTU – or really any big event – is that sense that everyone is paying really close attention to something they might not have, otherwise. In real time, Twitter saw conservatives reacting positively and surprisingly to certain remarks Obama made, and then fact-checking others moments later.

But the overwhelming feeling of community on Twitter makes it possible for other, more revealing feelings to come out too. One of the most moving moments of the night was the Presidents’ embrace of Gabby Giffords on his way into the chamber. Everyone seemed to be moved by this…and later in the night, it inspired no shortage of meaningful commentary. Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, said this in a series of tweets:

As someone with an incident of brain trauma in my family, it breaks my heart to see Gabby Giffords. So relieved she's done so well...

...but there was no way she was going to be able to come back to Congress. Not after that. She'll always be severely diminished.

And it always bothered me how many people either didn't know that or pretended it wasn't true.

It's not like the movies. You don't get that badly hurt and end up laughing back in the office as the credits roll.

She was, and is, an amazing person. I'm sorry I didn't know enough about her before the tragedy. And it's amazing she's here. But...

...let her be what she is now, and let her do what she has to do. Okay. That's it. 

Now, if I hadn't been watching #SOTU on Twitter, I would have missed that moment. And needless to say, his take, which only appeared on our feed for moments, has inspired a whole new conversation we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

/RL A.K.A @wordofmouth on Twitter