PERCEIVED INTERCONNECTEDNESS AND THE DEPENDENCE ON AMBIENT CONTEXT ON TWITTER DURING ELECTIONS
Keywords:Microcelebrity, Twitter, Intimacy
In this paper, I explore the role of ambient context in the encoding and decoding of election tweets and the ways these tweets signal perceived affective interconnectedness between users. I particularly explore the tweets by Turkish microcelebrities that do not make sense outside of a transient context and thus rely on the ambient context provided by shared online or offline experiences. These tweets include reactions or responses to TV interviews, news reports, rallies and so on. In scholarly works, similar tweets have been mainly observed within hashtagged datasets where the hashtag provides the necessary context. Building on Abidin’s (2015) account on perceived interconnectedness as a performance of intimacy between influencers and followers, I analyse such tweets as signifiers of affective interconnectedness that reinforce a ‘feeling of community’ (Dean, 2010). Thus, I argue that during political events, for Twitter microcelebrities, affect, as in, manifestations of experienced emotions (Papacharissi, 2012), replaces other strategies of intimacy in building these bonds. Political events create an environment where intimacy is capitalized to reinforce affective experiences and is simultaneously generated through them. Understanding the subtext in these affective expressions imply a degree of togetherness between the microcelebrity and the follower, a shared, in-group experience that relies on an existing familiarity and reinforces the intimacy between them.