WE KEEP hearing about how social media will be an integral part of the upcoming federal election.
A fundamental plank in both sides' campaign strategies and a potential decider in who forms government.
Ergo, we are experiencing a wave of stories on who Tweeted what, selfies on photo-sharing network Instagram, gaffes going viral on YouTube and analysis of which prime ministerial candidate has the greatest online presence.
Kevin Rudd's hair flicks or Tony Abbott aiming a kiss at a baby only to miss and smooch mum awkwardly on the back of head are all documented for the online world and repeated ad nauseam.
It's personality at the expense of policy, entertainment at the expense of analysis.
So Franklin candidate Bernadette Black's corny YouTube pitch or Greenway candidate Jaymes Diaz's hopeless attempts to explain the Coalition's asylum seeker policy become examples of mass schadenfreude.
Interestingly the above examples are both from the Liberal Party, which has been slower than the ALP to migrate to the new form of communication.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has 150,000 Twitter followers and about 55,000 fans on Facebook while Prime Minster Kevin Rudd has more than 1.3 million Twitter followers, 90,000 "likes" on Facebook, and 51,000 followers on Instagram.
But the Coalition is still favourite to win the election.
Will how many "likes" Mr Rudd gets on a selfie really change Labor's appalling governance over the last two terms?
Will it make the public forget the way the ALP focused so much on itself and its leadership machinations at the expense of the Australian people?
Maybe. We're a pretty capricious bunch, us voters.
But at the risk of being labelled a Luddite, I just don't believe one side's performance in the social media sphere can influence how the nation votes.
One thing social media is contributing to is our lack of attention - policy in 140 characters or less - and making the campaign more about the two leaders.
In this increasingly presidential-style campaign, someone asked how they can vote for Kevin Rudd for PM without voting for their local Labor candidate.
That's pretty scary.
But sections of the media play to the lowest common denominator.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph started its campaign coverage by screaming: "KICK THIS MOB OUT".
There's nothing wrong with a newspaper taking an editorial stance -The Age called for Julia Gillard to go in the weeks leading up to her toppling.
Readers are smart enough to tell the difference between a news story and editorial opinion.
And rather than lead to bias in reporting it can actually have the opposite impact and make journalists and readers keenly aware of balance.
However, the Telegraph goes too far in mixing news with entertainment and comment.
We should all be mindful on the import of September 7 and the serious business of electing our government.
Politicians are representatives of the people not celebrities.