When all the rest of the world thought of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as social networking sites, they have changed a lot of things. That being said, Politics was given a whole new arena with these social networks.
Cartoon : Geek&Poke
Obama “befriended” the social networks during his campaign. He took to the social networking sites to make people aware of him and his causes. It was his way of reaching more people, on a more personal level. His strategy won him President of the United States. Why? Millions of Americans go online every single day. His campaign, on the net, was noticeable.
With the rise of social media, what was once private gets people aware with a click. For instance, when the war in Libya broke out, people saw horrifying videos of burnt soldiers. Not only that, people saw events from different facets. People got their phones and digital cameras, took pictures and videos, and posted them in YouTube or Facebook. That got the whole world’s attention alright. Too much that now, a lot of countries are becoming involved in the conflict, trying to help in whatever way they can.
More than anything, the rise of social media made politicians more aware of their actions or words. Straight from the horses’ mouths, so to speak. What they think of as freedom to “speak their minds” becomes a target for criticisms when people read about their tweets. Take Shashi Tharoor, junior foreign minister of India. He tweeted that economy class travel was “cattle class”, getting the ire of many. Chua Soi Lek of Malaysia also got several drawbacks from cursing his critics on Twitter. Supporters and opposition alike had their say about his lax behavior on the site.
More than anything, politicians and humane people alike need to learn responsibility in using social networks. When normally people think of just letting themselves out, social networks is a way for everyone to be heard. In the world of politics, people need to be more responsible since they are not just carrying their opinions. They represent an institution, an agency. That alone is a wakeup call to everybody. Think before tweeting and remember that your posts can affect others’ opinions about a lot of things.
Social media AND politics can be friends. Remember to be careful of your tweets and be sparse on the comments. Read before reacting and choose appropriate words before posting them. That way, information will be read and understood in the right context.