Effects of Social Networking Sites on Our Political Views
There is no doubt that social networking sites have changed the way we communicate and our political views. We can easily reach out to a lot of people, even transcending borders. Conversely, we can easily be reached by other people, especially if there are common interests, hobbies, and even politics. Especially with the latter, this will definitely have some effect on the how we see the world works, and how we expect it to work. Our ideologies or put simply, our political views.
I remember when I first created my Facebook account. There’s a field in your profile where you can put your political views. I answered “Liberal.” But while I was putting my answer, my thought balloon was, “What the heck?”
Why would anyone care about my political views?
And even if I did, and somebody gets to see it, or cared enough to read it, I wouldn’t change the world as we know it. I don’t think it’s gonna change for the better in my lifetime. Or so I thought.
Social networking sites are a very powerful communication tool. No wonder many businesses and organizations tapped into these different sites to easily spread the word to clients, and even potential ones. Every “Like”, “Share”, “Retweet”, information spreads like wildfire.
And as for politicians, realizing how powerful this tool is, have joined the bandwagon. Of course, there’s still the old school political rally. It will always be there. But when a political candidate, or a party, asks you to follow them on Twitter, or “Like” their page on Facebook, they ask you in guise to support their campaign. And the mere fact that you actually “Liked” the page, or you followed them obviously shows your support for them. And if you’re that avid supporter, think about how these politicians can easily convince you to view the world in the same way they view it. In the long run, think how easily they can convince you to give them your precious vote.
US President Obama easily proved how you can leverage social media to advance your political campaign. He targeted the youth, the age group who are more inclined in using social media. He was able to easily reach out to this people, build rapport, and gain their confidence & trust. But the real power of social networking comes when it is actually these people who converged and formed into groups, albeit online. So just imagine the flow of discussions here, without necessitating these people to actually meet up and see each other. And think how many online friends each person in has. They too, while indirectly, are already part of the campaign. And at this stage, Obama is not doing the work anymore. It is the people he was able to convince that’s doing the talking now.
Now this is just one aspect on how Social Networking has affected our political views. But let’s go somewhere that seems to be so, well, ordinary. There are lots of things we see or hear in the news that we affect us greatly. More often than not, these are things that are far too great for us, and we can’t control. Things like taxation, prices of oil, how the government spends, and so on. As the public, we are supposed to have a say on these things. Of course, you can’t just write or call to some politician and to tell him/her to do something about to it (though in theory, you could). So a lot would just express their approval, or vent their sentiments through social media. Again, the real power of social networking comes when people start reading your tweets or statuses, “Like” or “Favorite” them, and/or share their comments. And for the sensitive politician who very often (forgive me for this) listen or look to this significant exchange of information, gets to pulse the people and may take some course of action.
Now, with great power comes responsibility. It sounds cliché now after watching too much Spider-Man. But yes, we have to exercise some constraint, and be responsible. What we share or post in Social Networking sites is virtually for the entire online community to see. Our choice of words and how we say what we mean are really important. Lots of people fight over the Internet. Some just make senseless comments. Others would just “Like,” “Share,” or “Retweet” without thinking twice. If you think these your actions do not have consequences just because you’re in the Internet, think again.
So going back to my thought balloon, do my political views matter? Oh yes! Directly or indirectly, I can influence someone with my views, and that person can influence somebody else as well. Same goes for everyone else not only in the online community, but for everyone at large. Think before you say anything. Think before you post something. Think before you share that post.