How is social media affecting politics?

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Answered by: Joe, An Expert in the Matters Category
Welcome to the new age of global reconstruction. And no, it's not the uninhibited wave of Bieber fever that's sweeping the Earth off its feet... if only that was the worst of our worldly woes. No, we have much bigger fish to fry like political intolerance and human rights indifference as well as other inhumane laws and policies that found the basis of civilly distraught or suppressed countries around the globe. There's no denying it anymore. The information age has brought with it a new era of global consciousness and world awareness that we can longer claim ignorance of. But, fortunately for us, the evolution of the Internet has taken a new turn in recent years and truly delved into the political spectrum in such a way that the Founding Fathers would be proud of. And we all have social media to thank for it.

Where to begin? How about the first real-life world display of social media's power? Well, that would have to be the United States' presidential election campaign of 2008. Undoubtedly, we were all witnesses to the revitalization of politics in the younger generation of Americans during the '08 presidential elections. And we all know the tour de force behind it- the hip, youthful, tech-savvy campaign of the then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama, who Blackberry-ed his way to the White House and showed us all how it's done. Ultimately, the President's campaign was a political machination that awoke the fiery hearts of young minds across the nation, and the world over. But what was it about this candidate's campaign that so engulfed America's young constituents? Simply put, it spoke to them on their level, that is, the social media level. Forget voter lists, phone banks, and snail mail- Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube provided direct, fast, and reliable links to everyone of his political followers. 'Fanned,' 'favorited,' and 'followed' a million times over, he could count his votes-earned daily and respond accordingly. Was it really possible to have social media affecting politics in a way that would utterly change the world?

Yes, it was, and with such an inspirational march to the White House, Obama's campaign strategy highlighted to the world that the 'dark ages' of political slandering and unsubstantiated mud-raking were over. Traditional media suppression was not going to hold back the general consensus breeding online in chat-rooms, live feeds, and message boards. Such emotional debates were not only thriving over the Internet, but they were also spilling out into the streets. In the '08 campaign, political activism could not have been trendier, young people couldn't have been more politically enthused, and everyone believed that 'yes, we can' wasn't a hollow ideological statement, but rather a call-to-arms for real change that could be banked on. It was clear, politics had found its new home both in the Us and the world.

But how is social media affecting politics in the world at large? Take the recent uprisings in the Middle East for example: Iran, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria have each had serious political protests and challenges all within a four month span. Each grassroots movement in one country seeming to spark off the latent undertones of another and no matter the outcome, no one can deny the catalyst behind the politically-fueled fire- social media's prevalence among the people involved. Truly, the era of the baby-boomers has ended and the new era in America, that of generation Me, has given the world its gift- political freedom online. To have social media affecting politics in ways the old politics of the world could only dream of years ago. The ramifications of which are more than evident as each country must now deal with the collective force of its citizenry online.

Politics in social media showed the world that American innovation was still breaking down walls. With vertical integration of supporters and donations through instant and direct connections as well as horizontal gatherings/groupings at both local and national levels, the possibilities appear limitless. Only time will tell how far these political tools will take us as we face the harsh realities of the modern (and modernized) world, but as the information age turns into the renaissance of world empowerment, we can be sure that the social media affecting politics today is ultimately for our own good and should be utilized as a tool of liberation, not subjugation. Much as the Gutenberg press brought to light the vital importance of literacy, so too has the Internet brought to our understanding the acute need for global awareness and action. Thank you social media, thank you.

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