Social media rejuvenates political online presence

By Alice Lee, Columnist

By now, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t aware of the government shutdown, Theresa May’s Brexit drama and the presidential candidacy announcements for 2020. Unfortunately, this isn’t due to people’s enthusiasm to keep up with the news, but because most everyone is connected to some form of social media.

It’s pretty common now for anyone browsing through Facebook or Twitter to stumble upon news articles pertaining to real-life politics and issues. But it’s not the mere exposure to information that’s most important; the discussion it sparks across multimedia forums is the key that keeps politics alive in both the realm of reality, and the digital one.

Over the last week, some of the most notable news highlights worth mentioning include the postponement of President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress, teens in MAGA hats yelling slurs at a Native American veteran and an explosion that killed four Americans in Syria.

All of these events were trending topics across Twitter that drew outrage and sympathy, and anger and compassion, from people around the world. Social media is a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can yield powerful results that change the course of history.

The versatile nature of social media presents an opportunity for politicians to directly communicate with their constituents, to gauge public opinion and to express their views on what goes on in the news.

Social media platforms are where people’s thoughts are conveyed in a clear and succinct 280-character tweet, or a Facebook update on “what’s on their mind” or an impassioned Instagram post.

Whether or not the opinion is something you agree with is irrelevant to the purpose of the post: to keep the political conversation alive and foster active discussion for people of all ages and beliefs. There will be some outright offensive and distasteful comments, but there will also be enlightening messages which may change the way you think about a topic.

Social media should be used as a mechanism to keep people talking, to keep people engaged with their society. It’s a vehicle to share your thoughts while also (ideally) listening to other people’s thoughts.

The worst evil in all of society isn’t hate or fear or even death, it’s indifference. It’s easy to become disillusioned and disheartened when news comes in the form of bad news more often than good news, but society can’t devolve into an apathetic state of existence. Social media discussion prevents that from happening.

As much of a predominant role social media plays in our day-to-day lives, it unsurprisingly connects us to the political sphere. Social media can sometimes act as a police state, sometimes as a news broadcaster, but most importantly, it acts as the olive branch extended between the politics of our representatives, senators, and our president to people like you and me.

Alice is a freshman in LAS.

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