Politics online: is it making a difference?

Protest sign from the Egyptian revolution.

Protest sign from the Egyptian revolution. Source: wrightresult.com

Hello again readers! It’s time for my final post of this class. This week, we have been discussing the role of technology and social movements and politics. More specifically, we examined if technology has led to an increase or decrease in citizen participation for these types of events. After some thought, I am ready to tell you all what I think!

Overall, I believe that using technology for these events can raise more awareness for political and social movements. Personally, I am not involved in politics and I do not care very much about them. There is really no personal connection for me. However, seeing more information about voting and debates, etc. can lead me to think more about it and maybe research some information on my own. At the very least, I see it online so I cannot ignore it.

I believe that in the past, when using technology for political or social events was relatively new, it had a larger effect on participation. People were excited about the new possibility and wanted to see what it was like. Now, the novelty has worn off. The effect is much smaller and people are used to seeing politics online. Unless the event is a major revolution or something that has never happened before, it no longer ignites the enthusiasm to get involved it once did.

We read an article in class written by Daniel Bennett titled, “Exploring the role of Twitter and social media in revolutions“, which discussed the role of social media in politics and social movements. He gives a good explanation of what they are really doing and how it is not always effective. After reading this, I think it is clear that social media does have an advantage and it does inspire people to join movements and get involved. However, I think the participation has a limit. Once social media starts to influence the decisions the government makes, then I believe the online-inspired participation will skyrocket. It is easy to join a new movement or show support initially but once people realize that it doesn’t always change policies, the participation decreases.

This decrease was seen in the recent election, especially with the younger crowds. We are simply used to social media now and we know how hard it is to change something in the political world. Why bother participating if it won’t change anything? Until choosing to participate will clearly change something, the posts about elections will continue to be just another post on our Facebook walls.

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