Mass Media and Communications
March 4, 2015
The Future of Politics
The importance of social media has grown exponentially especially as it now serves as tool for political avocation. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube help advocating citizen engagement in political circles, especially where elections and electoral campaigns are popular and central. As an essential campaigning tool, social media is able to reach thousands of people in a matter of mere seconds, allowing political parties to be able to send messages to potential voters and target more citizens via streaming conversations and be able to strike up debates with their candidates online. Politicians are able to create a sense of personalization by calling out their supporters through Retweets and retain their support through their social media pages. Social networking sites have proven to play a crucial role in politics and serve as a useful resource for advocating political news and information, while allowing citizens to find likeminded orientated people. These social networking sites have become a tool for voter outreach in run-ups to elections. The roles of social networking sites have allowed politics and electoral participation to increase political participation and restructured the means and methods of political communications, which have elevated social influenced interactions between citizens and politicians.
Politicians are exploring more efficient and interactive ways to communicate with their supporters and major tools used to influence and encourage their supporters are through web-based messages. The advantages of using social media via websites such as Facebook and Twitter have helped women candidates to established publicity quicker and foster a healthy relationship with their followers and supporters. Social media forms allow politicians to be able to have more control over their political messages and because of it, it allows for a personalized connection with their followers. Most importantly, social media has served as an outlet for an increase in women candidates running for public office. There is a lack of women in public office and to understand this, one must realize that there is a substantial gender gap in politics. It is not a surprise to realize that men far outweigh the number of females in public office today and to this day, the United States have not had a female president. Social media is the answer to help women cultivate popularity and establish themselves in the public eye. In addition, with the usage of social media, it creates a sense of political interest in young women, simultaneously stimulating a movement for more women in politics. A study done by Pew Research Center describes how, “In May 2013, 74% of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 62% of men” (Pew). These facts further support the claim that political social networking will impact female population and lead to an increase participation and interest in women running for office and stimulate political participation.
Social networking sites are breeding grounds for a rise in youth participation, “Between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites among young adult internet users ages 18-29 jumped from 9% to 49%.” (Pew). A major problem currently in society, is the lack of voters especially in the age groups between eighteen to twenty-four because these groups of voters have the lowest turnout rate. Part of the problem is due to the lack of awareness and interest among youths. This current generation is considered the most technical savvy social networking users and with the increase of social political networking, it will create political awareness and advocate for further political involvement. Furthermore, by using websites to advertise political views, it will increase interest in the youth of today. An important issue to address is the fact that political youth activism is not new, but through the usage of social networking- it allows for peer created and directed movements to take place. The term participatory politics is appropriate to use, as it allows for interactive, peer based forums in which youth can relate to and are not given a basis- such as traditional political activity, which relies on newspapers or political parties for discussion. As youth groups become more interactive with politics, they may create blogs about political issues or share political videos to their social networking pages. A study has shown, “that 41% of all youth participated in at least one of these activities during the past year.” (Youth and Participatory Politics). This is the same amount of people that decided they would vote, or said they intended to vote (including youth folk under eighteen). The statistics was just below “the 45% who said they engaged in forms of politics more directly tied to institution such as, working on a political campaign or donating money” (YPP).
Although social networkings have started become a popular medium in politics, online political engagements are mainly restricted to those who are currently active in politics and other audiences are not as responsive. A good example of this would be in the United Kingdom, television news, online and print newspapers are still the most major sources of political information. The percentage of people that use media coverage to gain information about political news include,“75% of adults cite television, 27% cite tabloid newspapers, 26% cite radio, 20% cite news websites, and 16% cite broadsheet newspapers in the UK.” (Audit of Political Engagement 9). With the exception of news websites, internet based sources of information are not commonly accessed as a main source “with only 6% citing social media, 1% using political party websites and 1% using political blogs as a main source of information about politics.” (Audit). Although the presence of social media is spreading, it seems that online political engagements is largely restricted to people already active in politics and other audiences are less responsive. There needs to be a medium in which, politics can thrive and reach a greater number of people to encourage participation in politics.
Social media is strong outlet that allows for personal communication between candidates and their supporters. It helps stimulate minds by creating debates, in addition to sharing information on candidates and their political viewpoints. It is helpful in being able to research candidates easier and make it more interactive. But, there are still issues with social media creating participation and a solution would be finding new sociable and interactive ways to inform and cultivate a sense of interest in politics. Make it more accurate, reliable, and as popular as popular trends and fads. When more people pay attention to politics, more people will have a public opinion and either agrees and disagree creating a stir in society for political change. Part of the problem is that the least active voting group, those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are least likely to vote need to be motivated and interested in doing so. Part of the solution for this is promotion political participation through social media. As politics takes to social media, they are able to widely share their world views and be able to share these views more explicitly and create a more personalized relationship with their audience by finding what is most popularly trending and create references to such ideas. Another good point is that social media can target specific groups of people that share a certain characteristic and would be incline to follow a candidate due to their viewpoints. Social media has to add popularity to political campaigns and appeal to the younger generation in order to get more participate voters.
McClurg, Scott. (2003). Social Networks and Political Participation: The Role of Social Interaction in Explaining Political Participation (4th ed., Vol. 56, p. 44). Carbondale, Illinois: Political Research Quarterly.
Social networking sights have a strong influence on advocating for political action, there is a positive correlation between political discussion and social networking done recently. It also discusses the importance of how social networking leads to peer interaction and participation- allowing for a wide-spread of diverse opinions and debates rather than cultivated from a specifically targeted candidate group by political campaigns. It allows for individual freedom and creates popularity in politics by sparking debates and voicing an opinion on a political subject- therefore creating an interest in politics, especially for the younger generations.
Audit of Political Engagement 9. (2012). Hansard Society.
While social media and networking might be a positive step forward, statistics have supported the idea that it may not have as great effect as politicians believe it to have on political involvement. Although there are a widespread of good marketing ideas advertising to voters and trying to meet them on a personal level- many people still rely heavily on the news for their information. While those already in the political circuit are the ones that are most active on social media sites geared towards stirring up political debates and informing the public.
Cathy, C., Joseph, K., Bowyer, B., Middaugh, E., & Rogowski, J. (2012). Youth and Participatory Politics. New Media and Youth Political Action.
Through the discussion of current youth of today, there is a sense of realization that in order to obtain the votes of the younger generations, political agendas need to be changed their focus in order to be more relatable. As an increasing number of youth focus their attention on social network, politicians need to get onboard and follow the trend in order to rally and appeal to the younger generation of voters.
George, R. (2012). Mass Media in a Changing World (Fourth ed.). New York, New York: McGraw Hill.
Although social networking seems like a good thing, the Internet is always changing and the controversy of who controls the Internet is a phenomenon that nobody can answer. This is because, nobody really controls it. Social media sites that would be pushing political involvement can set up forums and post debate material, but once the information is out there on the Internet, anybody has the right to say and do whatever they want with the information. It could spark controversy, influence others, or just be informative.
Pew Research Center. (2010, March 25). Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.pewresearch.org/about/
The research center focuses on gender gap in politics. Although there are in increasing amount of women in the political world, women are still considered a minority. Social media sites can help stimulate and bolster interest in politics. It can project a sense of positivity towards women in politics and offer an increase for young women to choose a path in politics. Social media allows for personalization, allowing politicians to declare their point of view and focus on appealing to the individual rather than the masses.