Personally I do agree that technology has huge affects positively on how we get involved into politics and government. Even though great portion of American population lost their beliefs in political-efficacy, but with Internet it is definitely increasing. Another positive effect of Internet is that it decreases the cost of participation. For example it saves time, because people wouldn’t have to show up on election places physically. With technology government participation is only few clicks away.
So does the Internet have any affects on political participation? Few years ago political scientist Robert Putnam argued that citizens are becoming more “lonely bowlers” who no longer interacts socially, and as a consequence no longer willing to take part in political matters (Putnam, 2010, Firsthand). On the other hand Russell J. Dalton argued that what’s happening is not a decline in participations, but a diversification of how individuals in America take part in political involvements (Dalton, 2010, Firsthand).
Before all this technology and Internet only way of participating in government was traditional way. Which is by showing up physically in voting place, and participations would take place within the proper political sphere. But Internet made voting possible for every citizen for those who might be ill and can’t leave the house, or for those who is constantly busy. In this case I agree with Russell J. Dalton, because Internet actually helping out individuals with participation in politics and government.
As a teenager living in this country I wouldn’t be aware of a lot of things if there was no internet, because not a lot of individuals at my age read swappers frequently or watch news reports and et cetera, but we spend most of our time on internet tweeting, checking Backbone, Mainstream, and other social network websites. For example with out Internet I wouldn’t find out about the riots in Baltimore fast as I did, or about the earthquake in Nepal. It is very similar when it comes to politics, since most of the politicians them selves do tweeting, buzzed, and Youth videos.
These actions would engage more people into political participations. Throughout Internet there is a lot of websites that share political information. Such as government websites, social media websites, and a lot more. In September of 2008 two students from University of Massachusetts created a website called Locality (Alcoholically. Com). Locality is a website that brings together citizens, government officials, and Journalists to learn and exchange ideas for better government.
On Locality citizens are able to say the issues that matter to them while local government officials gain opportunity to get engaged with their constituents, and help them out with these problems. When they started the website heir main goal was to have a simple way for citizens to go online and bring up the political issues to the surface. I believe this website would be a great way for citizens to get involved into the government, and best part is citizens can bring up their own issues and ideas.
It also gives citizens options to remain anonymous if they wish to do that. Most people who share ideas on the Internet tend to be more politically polarize which means they would be on one side or another, and only few would be liberal. This is because of the use of washrags. Research called “Political Popularization n Twitter” from Journalist’s resource looks at how liberals and conservatives interact on Twitter. Research shows that most people tend to rewet users whom they agree or disagree with.
Most of the time rewetting includes profile of the person who thought about the original idea, and more rewetting it gets it tends to form a small group of people with same ideas. Often time’s social media websites are politically polarize, because people use washrags that involves name of their party organizations, for example person who is republican would tweet their ideas and at he ending they would washrag #republicans, #Depart, or #GOP which means republican party as well.
Washrags are usually used to represent which party platform they have. Similar actions can be found on Backbone users. On Backbone people with similar ideas tend to open up groups or pages to share ideas amongst each other. Whoever finds them interesting can Join the group and every time it’s updated it would pop up on their news feed, and this way group members would stay informed about political news. This method would increase the belief of political-efficacy for some folks. In the book “Bowling Alone” Robert D.
Putnam argued that Internet is decreasing our civic engagement, which is interaction with other people, and he said it would decrease political engagement as well. I believe it is the total opposite, because if we take a look at this chart of democrat voters in presidential elections of 2008, it shows that out of overall voters 66% were between the ages of 18-29. That’s mainly because Barack Obama used Internet as his main source to gain votes. This approach got him more active, new, and younger voters to build a strong and successful base of support.
Since teenagers are the top users of the Internet, interest in political participation would increase amongst them. Most Researches shows that political engagement increases from the use of the Internet. It gets younger generation interested, and Barack Obama approach in 2008 presidential elections proves this to be true. I have noticed this in my self as well, back in my country I didn’t really spend my whole day sitting front of the computer and using Internet. Working playing sports and other activities kept me away from it.
Now for the past 3 years whenever I’m using Internet I start reading political stuff. It doesn’t happen right away when I open the computer but through Backbone or other social networks. For example I see something political on Backbone if it’s interesting I start looking it up on Google and that way I learn more about what’s going on in government. If most of the younger generation got involved into politics we would start seeing changes in politics, because big portion of population in USA would be young people. As for me if voting was possible, I would have done it every election.