"How do we best reach the hip youngsters these days? . . . They like texting, browsing the interwebs, and the Twitter, right? . . . I've heard they can conduct entire conversations with tiny cartoons . . . I wonder if MySpace is still fresh . . . I got it! Let's introduce them to the intricacies of foreign policy by using one of those memes. Now, do the cool kids like hip-hop? . . ."
That must've been the thought process of those behind a tweet from the White House. It used the "Straight Outta Compton" movie picture meme and replaced it with "Straight Outta Uranium" presumably to discuss the controversial Iran nuclear deal with millennials.
For those of you that don't know, a "meme" is an online trend, usually a funny picture that is usually modified to relate to something else before it spreads across social media like wildfire.CartoonMatt Davies' latest cartoon: Bill and Donald's bindersCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
It's already a little weird that @TheIranDeal is a Twitter handle of the White House, but trying to get millennials to talk about the agreement with a reference to N.W.A., a hip-hop group out of Compton, California, would be completely insulting if it wasn't just a little hilarious. But the supposedly cool Obama administration wasn't the only one out of touch with young voters.
On Wednesday, the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton asked people to tweet to its account using three emojis "or less" to describe their feelings about student loan debt. Now emojis are great for showing a little extra emotion in your message, but there is no emoji for "Hey there, Hillary. Student loan debt is quite bad, Hillary. I'd much rather focus on getting my degree than what part of my body I'll have to chop off and sell to pay off my monstrous loan, Hillary."
Both attempts to discuss the complicated issues with a younger audience are laughable and condescending. Not every millennial is a Twitter-using, meme-loving, emoji-typing maniac. One even proved her grammatical dominance by tweeting back, "I think you mean three emojis or FEWER."
Millennials are capable of not only using the English language, but of explaining themselves and their concerns in mature ways. Tapping into the younger audience, especially through social media, is tricky. . We are the generation of the Internet Police, and we will brutally Tweet-attack your failed attempts to be relevant and funny.
Christopher Leelum, a student at Stony Brook University, is an intern with Newsday and amNew York.