The Internet being one of the greatest technological inventions of our time has had such a profound impact on so many aspects of our lives. In politics, the Internet is getting the public even closer to politicians, and spreading ideas in ways that no other generation has ever been able to do so before.
With the Internet came social media, and with social media came the “tweet”. Twitter is one of the most popular methods today on the Internet to share your own ideas and thoughts with the rest of the world. It can be as simple as sharing a picture of that amazing food you’re eating at that fancy restaurant, talking about your plans for the day, or you can share your thoughts on today’s political discourse, and spread awareness of issues you think others should hear about.
Social media like Twitter has been used to keep up to date with friends, share thoughts and ideas with people you may not even know. It’s even been used to interview the president of United States. Anyone could send in a tweet for a chance to have the president respond. Regardless if your tweet made the big cut, the message was out for the world to see. They may not ask the president every question, but the content is there for the people to see. Others can see if a particular question is being overwhelmingly asked by the majority of tweets.
It’s not always about having your tweet singlehandedly find its way to the presidents desk and magically change the world. If I could do that, marijuana would be as legal as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of vodka. It’s about the idea spreading that makes something like Twitter valuable. An idea can spread through social media so fast it becomes unavoidable for anyone in the twittersphere to miss it thus going viral. It’s about as free as free speech can get and with the free flow of information and speech there can be progress.
Social media like Twitter played an immense role in the spreading of ideas leading up to the Arab Spring. Social media was used to orchestrate protests, spread ideas about a revolution, and promote liberty. Social media didn’t cause the Arab Spring, but it aided in letting people communicate, talk about their hardships and the dictatorships. They could communicate in a way that was uncensored and untouched by their government.
With the increase of Internet access, and ever expanding social media over the past few years, we recently hit a new political Twitter landmark. The first of the 2012 election debates was the most tweeted political event ever with 10.3 million tweets occurring throughout the duration of the debate. The media and the politicians could gauge in real time the public’s response to both candidates and even the moderator.
The data from these events can analyzed and broken down to see what people are talking about and reacting to. For example, you can see the greatest reaction of the night on Twitter was when moderator Jim Lehrer made his “let’s not” remark to Romney. You can even find some organizations that break down this data even more, and can give you an idea what people were saying. This data could be a goldmine for politicians that need to understand how well recieved a statement or remark was.
I believe the effects of the Internet and social media has had on our democracy are greater and are going to continue to be greater than anyone could possibly imagine. The Internet levels the playing field for the average citizen to voice their opinions. It creates a completely uncensored and open media outlet that illustrates free speech to promote a true and just democracy in its purest form.