(CNN) -- Although 2012 was championed as the year of "The Twitter Election," the Twitterverse turned out to be a cold, cruel place.
Mistakes became memes. Blunders gave birth to parody accounts with huge followings. And at least in Paul Ryan's case, good looks became a talking point.
Hey girl, instead of giving out candy this year, I thought it'd be more fun to take stuff away...like the social safety net. #happyhalloween— Paul Ryan Gosling (@PaulRyanGosling) October 31, 2012
Key moments in the campaign were documented by the creation of Twitter parody accounts, and many were not amused.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that sentiment on social media of both presidential candidates remained consistently negative even if mainstream media coverage was positive.
The study was conducted during a one-month period that included both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
"The differences raise a question about whether social media may make what Americans hear about politics more negative and may make it harder for political actors, particularly those trailing in the polls, to alter the media narrative," the study said.
Humor has always played a fundamental role in politics, at times creating serious commentary around important topics. Comedians Jon Stewart and Chris Rock have proved this for years. "Saturday Night Live" thrives during election seasons. Twitter, however, allows practically anyone to rise from obscurity to online comedic celebrity.
The question then becomes, does it matter?
The landscape where social media, politics and humor converge is an area of burgeoning research. Kristen Landreville, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Wyoming, has studied the effects of political humor.
She found that programs like "The Daily Show" influence people's knowledge and cynicism about politics and their use of other political media.