Home > Uncategorized > Blog #9: Online Politics

Blog #9: Online Politics

I believe that not only is being involved in politics online the same as being involved in politics in “real life”, but online politics has created a new horizon that makes politics more accessible to anyone. The internet has created another medium for people to express their political opinions to a greater audience then they may have been able to reach before. One of the greatest examples in recent memory of the effect online politics can have on real life is the revolution in Egypt. Before the connectivity that the internet and social networking created, the suppressed population in Egypt would never have been able to organize such a large scale revolution and ultimately accomplish their goals. The citizens were able to create an online community of individuals with similar beliefs to organize the revolution that ultimately ended up in their favor. Others have began to follow their lead as we have seen recently in Libya.

The Internet has begun to change the game of politics as we know it. People are relying on the Internet to receive their political news and in some cases it is their only source. Also, the landscape for public participation in politics is being greatly increased through the evolution of the Internet. Clay Shirky describes this change as he states,

As the communications landscape gets denser, more complex, and more participatory, the networked population is gaining greater access to information, more opportunities to engage in public speech, and an enhanced ability to undertake collective action. In the political arena, as the protests in Manila demonstrated, these increased freedoms can help loosely coordinated publics demand change.

Blogs, public discussion forums, and many other types of new media have increased this freedom of speech that the first amendment of the United States has granted its citizens. Before, this freedom was limited because the average citizen did not have a forum to reach the masses. The internet has created this forum and more and more we are beginning to see everyone utilizing this effective tool.

Politics is a changed game because of the internet. I don’t think it is fair though to classify online politics as being in a different category than “real life” politics. Online politics are “real life”. The world around us is changing everyday and it is important that we adapt to the changes. The internet is something that needs to be integrated in politics because it can be used as such a useful tool in achieving political examples. This was witnessed through Barack Obama’s extensive use of Facebook in his bid for the 2008 election.

One downfall online politics may have in losing touch with “real politics” is the personal touch of simply running a campaign through shaking hands and talking to people. Obviously, this still occurs, but as a nation we are beginning to stray away from that. If you can win the votes of the internet community that may be more important than actually visiting those communnities. I think is is too early to tell the ultimate effect the internet will have on politics since it still may be in its infancy stage, but we are beginning to witness the effects already.

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