“TikTok Democracy”: When Politics is LOL, But is Anyone Actually Laughing?

Democracy faces a crisis of spectacle and apathy. Politicians chase viral fame on social media, while citizens disengage. This focus on entertainment undermines accountability and erodes trust. It's time to demand more from our leaders and revitalize true democratic participation.

“TikTok Democracy”: When Politics is LOL, But is Anyone Actually Laughing?
Lost in the digital circus: does social media undermine democracy?
“Democracy is dead! Long live the TikTok candidate!”

Okay, okay – Carola García Calderón, director of UNAM's Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, didn't exactly say that. But you could be forgiven for thinking something so dramatic when looking at modern political campaigns. Those stuffy speeches about transparency, ideals, and citizen participation? They're getting drowned out by viral dance routines, snappy one-liners, and candidates pretending to be relatable in ways that sometimes make you cringe harder than a badly lip-synced audio clip.

As Calderón points out, politics has gone full-on TikTok. That's the price of admission if you want to connect with today's voters, particularly the younger generation. They're not reading manifestos – they're scrolling through social media on their lunch breaks. The political arena has become one gigantic digital stage. If you're not entertaining, you're not even in the game.

Eduardo Robledo Rincón, coordinator of UNAM's University Government Program, puts it bluntly: it's less about policy proposals and more about being meme-worthy. This is a world where serious messages have to compete with cat videos. Can you blame politicians for trying to be funny?

But there's a problem. Young voters, those politicians dearly want, aren't that into traditional politics. They might be passionate about social causes, but actually participating in the drudgery of government? Nah, they'd rather watch someone eat a hot pepper on a livestream. This leads to a weird paradox – politicians are becoming entertainers to reach those who've given up on politics altogether.

Politics, as Calderón notes, has become a spectacle. We might tune in for the outrageous statements and scandals, but are we really thinking about ideas, policies, or the kind of society we want to live in? Nope! We're just here for the drama, folks. This isn't just about voters, either. Politicians might as well be in a reality TV show instead of leading a country. It's all about crafting a narrative and controlling the spotlight, regardless of whether there's any substance to back it up.

Lost in the Digital Jungle

Social media and the internet are a double-edged sword. Sure, politicians can reach voters directly, but the digital world is overflowing with misinformation. Fake news spreads like wildfire, and if you're not constantly on top of debunking and damage control, those viral lies can become 'truth' in the minds of many.

This mess has made us distrustful. We question everything, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's a major problem when 'trustworthy' becomes just another brand. We've seen democracy reduced to a popularity contest, where it sometimes seems like we elect whoever has the better social media team, not the better policies.

Carola García Calderón hits the nail on the head when she talks about how we've lost sight of what democracy really is. Voting? That's kid stuff! Real democracy is about accountability, transparency, and constant citizen participation. It's about remembering that we, the people, are the ones in charge, not some flashy figure on our screens.

Politicians, desperate for our votes, have created this TikTok-ified, shallow political landscape. But, and here's the kicker, it's up to us to fix this attention-deficit democracy disorder. We're the ones who need to demand more than entertainment. Maybe the real political revolution will be led not by a social media star, but someone who makes reading election manifestos cool again. Or, hey, at least slightly less boring.