Bronx native Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first burst onto the political scene in the summer of 2018 with an incredible underdog win against 10-year incumbent Democrat Caucus Chair Joe Crowley.
Since then she's become an overnight celebrity, that infamous win being just the first of many historic moments to follow in her wake. During her short two years in office, she's done a lot, including authoring both the Green New Deal and the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act and introducing them to Congress.
(Seriously, when I say she's done a lot, I mean it — here's just some of her incredible political accomplishments, straight from the icon herself.)
Representative Cortez has proven that she's pretty amazing at a lot of things, but her most impressive skill of them all may just be her flawless social media game.
AOC is a trailblazer when it comes to the intersection of politics and social media. She has mastered the art of using her digital platforms (particularly Instagram and Twitter) to connect with her constituents and educate them on current political issues, legislation, votes, and world events. She breaks complex topics down into bite-sized pieces, answers public questions, and includes links to helpful infographics and resources.
Her down-to-Earth-ness is making politics much more accessible for young people who may otherwise find these topics too confusing or intimidating to research on their own. Her stories, livestreams, Q&As, and easy-to-digest explanations have brought an entire generation of voters into the loop when, for so many years, the ultimate goal of politicians was to keep us as far out of it as possible.
AOC has done quite a few Instagram Lives where she utilizes some of her spare time (it's hard to believe she has any) to talk with and answer her followers' questions.
She's even gone live on Twitch where a record-breaking 435,000 people watched her play Among Us with her fellow Congresswoman Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, as well as some popular streamers like Hasan Piker (Twitch user HasanAbi), Imane Anys (Twitch user Pokimane), Benjamin Lupo (Twitch user Dr Lupo), and Jeremy Wang (Twitch user Disguised Toast), among others. As of this writing, the archived video now has more than 5.6 million views.
AOC Among Us FULL STREAM with Ilhan Omar and Twitch Streamers #IWillVote | 10/20/20 www.youtube.com
In a completely unprecedented move, she posted an hour-long livestream where she broke down each part of the upcoming COVID relief bill and addressed questions and concerns from her followers in regards to exactly what this would mean for them and how it would affect them.
What Happened at the Capitol Instagram Live | Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez www.youtube.com
Never in American history have we had a politician that has taken the time to so closely and accurately explain what is in a piece of legislation to constituents. And especially during the pandemic — a time for so many people that was confusing, overwhelming, and frankly, pretty terrifying — having a politician be completely transparent about details surrounding relief was an incredible show of how politicians should serve the people.
"We are now in the era of receipts. People now want to see the actual clips of legislation. They want to hear less about our stances." - AOC
Although she's done many, her two most-watched lives are unsurprisingly both about the January 6th insurrection. In her first live addressing the situation, she explained what happened at the Capitol and answered some questions before stating that she wasn't quite ready to go into detail about her personal experience yet. A few weeks later, she revisited the topic in a second live where she finally dug a little bit deeper and got more personal about her experience, revealing the trauma she had endured and had been enduring ever since the violent attack on the capital.
Behind the Scenes and Q&As
Recently, in another never-before-seen political display of transparency, she's been taking her followers behind the scenes on her Instagram stories to see what she does in a week as a government employee. When most politicians would probably rather die (or have you die) than let you see what they're up to in a week, AOC wants to make sure you know that your tax dollars aren't wasted on her salary by showing you exactly what's in her work agenda: helping the people every single day.
During the COVID-19 pandemic (and the discourse surrounding the safety and legitimacy of vaccines), her Q&As have been an indispensable resource for a lot of people. She was very vocal about her COVID vaccination process and took her Instagram followers with her through the entire process via her stories, keeping them updated on her symptoms and side effects. (You can see all of this in a highlight she has pinned on her Instagram profile.)
Recently for Pride Month, she posted this Instagram story putting some companies on blast for using pride logos when they're funding anti-LGBTQ+ politicians behind the scenes. (We love an ally with receipts!)
Just @AOC using political social media flawlessly once again https://t.co/45LSkVLvev— 🐉Samwise✨ (@🐉Samwise✨)1623285306.0
The Relatability Factor
I know the term "relatable" has been completely overplayed by internet culture, but a certain air of relatability is such an important tool for politicians to have. People want to know real people, and the way Representative Cortez uses her social media to connect on a relatable level not just with young people, but constituents of all ages, is ingenious when it comes to breaking down the walls of secrecy surrounding political literacy.
Ocasio-Cortez comes from a lower-middle-class background, and before becoming a politician, she worked in the restaurant industry as a bartender. The fact that she comes from a "normal" background where she held a "normal" job gives her the distinct advantage of really knowing what it's like to live in the shoes of the people she represents. (As a former restaurant worker myself, it hits really close to home.) She knows what the most important issues are because she's lived them. She knows how to speak to people in vulnerable positions because she's been in them. And she knows how to connect with her audience because she understands the importance of accessibility.
AOC utilizing social media doesn't just make her relatable, it makes her accessible. There are so many people across America that don't have access to proper education or resources about things like politics, vaccines, laws, legislations, and voter rights — but many of them do have access to Instagram.
Representative Ocasio-Cortez has set a very high standard in terms of digital literacy for the next generation of politicians. She's setting a new precedent in terms of their responsibility to use their platforms as an opportunity to be open, honest, and engaging with their constituents. With the internet and social media increasingly becoming more ingrained in our everyday lives, it's more important than ever that politicians pivot to utilizing the platforms that will connect them the most efficiently with the people they represent. And to get started, it's easy: All they have to do is take the Masterclass from AOC herself.
Tessica Brown's success points to the upside of making terrible decisions.
Back in February, Tessica Brown become an overnight celebrity when she shared a video on TikTok explaining the lead-up and the aftermath of her decision to put industrial adhesive in her hair.
Having run out of her usual firm-hold hairspray, Brown used a bottle of spray-on Gorilla Glue to hold her hair in place — ignoring the various safety warnings that should have made it clear what a bad idea that was. Weeks after the fact, she had still been unable to remove the glue, which had transformed her hair into a sort of thin laminated helmet permanently attached to her scalp.
At the time, Tessica Brown's story seemed to have reached a happy ending when a surgeon offered to remove the glue from Brown's hair and scalp — which involved a lengthy procedure — for free. She could finally lay to rest the embarrassing chapter of her life when one of the worst decisions she ever made accidentally launched her to the heights of viral fame.
Except that it turns out she had no interest in putting it behind her... Ever since the incident, Brown has been selling hoodies and t-shirts immortalizing the image of her glue-hardened hair, and emblazened with the motto "Bonded for Life." And now she's taken the next step, releasing her own line of hair care products called Forever Hair.
The line includes an edge control gel and, of course, a "Forever Hold" hair spray for "firm, flake free hold w/ lasting shine." But there is also a "growth stimulating oil" which Brown claims to have formulated herself with the help of professionals in order to quickly and naturally regrow her hair in the months since she lost most of it to one terrible idea.
It remains unclear why anyone looking for new hair care products would place value in the endorsement of a woman who coated her head with Gorilla Glue. But if this works out for her, Brown will be an inspiration for every person who's ever made a terrible decision about their bodies.
Did you put nail polish on your teeth to avoid a trip to the dentist? Congratulations on your new line of hime dental equipment, and the whitening mouthwash that doubles as nail polish remover!
And what about that at-home microblading you did with a tattoo gun? Not only is your accidental unibrow plastered on t-shirts and baseball caps, but now you can have your own line of brow fillers and a branded at-home tattoo-removal laser!
If this works out for Brown, and this kind of foolishness becomes the quickest way to escape the endless, thankless toil of labor under late capitalism, we won't blame anyone for trying to get a tan from their toaster oven.
- Donald Trump's Disinfectant Injection—and Other Great Ideas (that ... ›
- 5 Reasons You Actually Should Put Gorilla Glue in Your Hair ... ›
Once written off as a baseless conspiracy, the lab leak theory — the idea that COVID-19 was spread thanks to a lab accident — has been gaining traction in recent months.
Recently, on the first in-person episode of Stephen Colbert's A Late Show in over a year, none other than Jon Stewart expressed his support for the idea. Or rather, he expressed his opinion that he believes there is "a chance" the pandemic was unleashed in a lab.
"I honestly mean this: I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science... Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science," Stewart began by saying.
Colbert replied, "Do you mean perhaps there's a chance that this was created in a lab?"
Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab Theory www.youtube.com
"A chance? Oh, my God," Stewart said. "There's a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China — what do we do?"
"Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan Novel Respiratory Coronavirus Lab. The disease is the same name as the lab!" Stewart exclaimed and mocked, "There's been an outbreak of chocolaty goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened? Oh, I don't know, maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean. Or it's the fucking chocolate factory!"
Colbert seemed taken aback. "That could very well be," he said. "It could be possible that they have the lab in Wuhan to study the novel coronavirus diseases because in Wuhan there are a lot of coronavirus diseases because of the bat population there."
Stewart kept pushing back. "This is not a conspiracy!" he said. "But this is the problem with science. Science is incredible, but they don't know when to stop and no one in the room with those cats ever goes, 'I don't know if we should do that.' They're like, 'curiosity killed the cat, so let's kill 10,000 cats to find out why.'"
In the end, Stewart admitted that his conspiracy-mindedness might have come from the same source of so many of our outlandish delusional thoughts over the past year. "I have been alone so long," he admitted (haven't we all). "And when I realized that the laboratory was having the same name — first name and last name — of the evil that had been plaguing us, I thought to myself, that's fucked up."
Afterwards, Stewart was widely condemned by medical professionals. "Right now, the reality is there is no smoking gun to say that it's of laboratory origin," said Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.
"They're putting the entertainment value of this above what's reality. It causes a lot of damage because a number of scientists who work on coronaviruses including myself feel that we're under attack right now."
Of course, some people were convinced the whole thing was Jon Stewart doing an Alex Jones-esque bit. But the performance landed as off-kilter, unanticipated, and unwelcome as 2020 was, with any meaningful or cathartic purpose lost in the blend of absurdity and spectacle — much like genuine political commentary.
If it wasn't, though, Stewart's announcement is a reminder of just how ready so many of us have become to believe in conspiracy theories this year. It's almost like we want to believe in them, like we need some affirmation that something is conspiring against us, like we can't accept the utter randomness and tragedy of a pandemic.
One thing is clear: We all need to get outside.