With increase to the popularity of social networking sites, users involved in political issues had grown rapidly over the years. These social networking sites put millions of people in constant contact with each other and are tools which many people used to connect with their families and friends and to freely express their political thought which shapes public opinions and improve democratic participation. Everyone can be a journalist through these online communication technologies. News travel instanteously and are ubiquitous.
I believed that communication freedom is essential for democracy, and the ability to publicly express political views on social networking sites have benefitted democracy. In this essay, I will discuss the term of democracy, state the factors such as freedom of speech and encourage democratic participation in young people and gives examples on democratic practices through online technologies uses. Firstly, to talk about democracy, it is said to be a government that gives the citizens the right to choose who to govern them, and have a say to decide on what will affects their future.
There should be free and fair elections and to protect human rights. Democracy requires responsibility and participation of people. I personally think that two key factors of democracy are equality and freedom of speech. Social networking sites is a useful medium for political discussion, education, debate and participation which allow greater freedom of expression, facilitating the citizens to challenge and criticise on political issues, which is a basic democratic right. People would now able to comment on any political issues, or even create political groups forums and campaigns through these social networking sites.
The internet can support the organisation of topic oriented pressure groups, protests organisations, and ideological movements (Neumayer, Christina and Celina, 2008). All these improve democratic participation. To promote democracy through social network uses, government becomes transparent and accountable, which works in the people’s favour, and eventually gains trust and empower the citizens. In (Scott, 2010), it is stated that, “People passionately fight and die for their freedom, and even to gain freedom for others.
People want to have and express their individual and collective identities, which may be an even more important concept than freedom itself. They want free from oppression, want justice, and want to engage in collective activity that promotes everyone's wellbeing. Some of these needs have been recognized and formulated into political systems from as early as 5000 years ago in ancient Sumer. Democracy has proven best for obtaining those goals of identity, individual freedom, and collective wellbeing. Another factor is that enabling freely expressing political views on social networks had increased the number of young people actively involving in political issues. Nowadays, the world of communication technologies is the only world young children and youth knows, it is a routine for them to use internet as educational tool, in and out of school (White, Rob and Wyn, 2008). Political issues are seldom discuss or taught in school. Social network hence engages young people, increase youth voter turnout and raise awareness of political issues amongst the youth.
Media technologies are an extremely important part of informal learning environment. (Greenfield, 2009). This is also another factor which contributes to improving democratic participation. From the findings of Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2012: “Younger users are more likely to post their own thoughts about issues, post links to political material, encourage others to take political action, belong to a political group on a social networking site, follow elected officials on social media, and like or promote political material others have posted. Lastly, there are a few examples of democratic practices through social networking sites used by political representatives happening in our world. One of them is the United States President, Barack Obama who formed online campaign using social media and technology, as a part of its successful strategy for the presidential election in 2007, to raise money, and more importantly, develop a groundswell of empowered volunteers who felt that they could make a difference (Aaker and Chang, 2009). Based on the today’s method of teaching, digital immigrant whom need to adapt to the current needs to always be retaining their foot in the past.
Likewise for the 2012 presidential election, President Obama makes use of the social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and eventually won the election the second time. The second example, is the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong who had joined Facebook and Twitter in 2012 as an increased effort to engage with younger Singaporeans. He has also asked the people to suggest, share and voice out ideas and thoughts of how to change and reform the country and improving lives. The social networking sites had proven to contribute political success across the globe.
In conclusion, the use of social networking provides convenient access for everyone to be better informed about current state affairs. It is being widely used in many parts of the world, not only for personal communication, but also to address publicly political, critical or taboo issues, which are not always accessible through traditional media. Social networks had also raised awareness of current political affairs among youngsters, which results has shown that more young people are participating in political issues than years ago when politics has not officially stepped in the media frenzy.
Furthermore, even political leaders had actively joined the social media to be able to engage more with the youngsters and modern digital natives. More democratic practices are performed through social media uses. With the ever growing numbers of social network users now able to access, create and distribute information, ideas are spreading faster, pushing the boundaries of freedom of expression and opening up new possibilities for change, reform and better quality of lives. The social network created a avenue for discussion about political issues and has become a potential catalyst for democratisation.
References Ashlee Vance. 2012. “Facebook: The Making of 1 billion users. ” Bloomberg Business week http://www. businessweek. com/articles/2012-10-04/facebook-the-making-of-1-billion-users Dorian Scott Cole. 2010. “Philosophy of Democracy” Visual Writer http://www. visualwriter. com/WhatKindWorld/philosophy_of_democracy. htm# Greenfield, Patricia M. 2009. “Technology and Informal Education: What Is Taught, What Is Learned. ” Science 323: 69-71. Jennifer Aaker and Victoria Chang. 2009. “Obama and the power of social media and technology” The