Editor's Note

How the power of a meme can change minds.

A little Labor Day social experiment proved what I already suspected about social media and the next election.

Jenny DeHuff’s vegetable platter

Jenny DeHuff’s vegetable platter Jenny DeHuff

By the time you're reading this, you might think that the Dr. Oz “crudités” video has had its 15 minutes – and more – but I have reason to disagree. 

Over Labor Day weekend, I decided to prepare a raw vegetable platter for some friends we had over for a party. I was curious if anyone would be interested in my chopped produce laid out elegantly on a cutting board and paired with various dips. I wanted to test my friends on their knowledge of both food culture and current events. 

After what felt like an eternity of preparation, my veggies were finally ready for consumption. Hours passed – and the platter went virtually untouched for much of the afternoon. I decided to investigate why. Those who had never seen the Oz video – or the brutal takedowns of it by Democratic opponent John Fetterman’s campaign – didn’t care – and those who had seen it were actually put off by my perfectly presentable produce. I was not surprised. 

As my friend and former colleague, Christine Flowers facetiously pointed out, “crudités” has suddenly become the new “C” word for a lot of people since the Oz video went viral. After all, it’s fun and easy to make fun of him for both his ignorance and pretentiousness. Curious for a different perspective, I called up my French friend, Delphine, who used to live in Fishtown and has since moved back to France, and asked her what she thought of this cause célèbre. She found it absurd that people have created such a fuss over the word, the Oz grocery store goof and, apparently, chopped vegetables. 

It goes to show the power of social media manipulation – both for better and for worse. When each candidate has so much influence in this space, wouldn’t it be smart to use that clout to engage with voters rather than attack each other? With less than two months to go before the election, both candidates should spend more time using social media to get serious about the issues Pennsylvania voters actually care about – and less time searching for the next big meme.