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Communication has evolved over the years. It started with undeciphered sounds and abstract carvings on the cave walls. The penultimate tools were telephone and letter. Then internet took over the mantle. Emails and social media are too popular these days. Today we all have two lives- real one and a virtual one. Teenagers and youth are more ecstatic about the latter. Although door-to-door propaganda and mass meetings are still common, they are basically seen in the election months. Politicians and leaders use social media to keep in contact with their followers regularly.

The day favors one with the voice. Image consultants are hired by political parties. Similarly tech bees are appointed to keep the show going on the web. They help politicians to maintain an impressible image. Starting from witty one-liners on twitter to links to development programs on facebook page and expression of thoughts and views online, all are meant to sway the twenties generation. The leaders find it necessary to publish their work to get a favorable opinion. Some even suggested that legislations can be debated and public opinion can be sought on the social media platform. Although it may not be possible in a populous country in India, it shows the importance given to the net-users. When there was a change of power at the centre, there was a spat between the new government and the old one over the division of virtual assets. The issue was about prime minister�s twitter handle.

What makes social media so special? The extremists use it to brainwash unsuspecting youth. This only proves the overwhelming effect it has on today�s generation. We are more susceptible to the virtual messages. The political parties post pictures of their rallies, meetings boosting the number of people attending them. They try to showcase their popularity to influence their online followers. If the people attending prove a leader�s acceptance among the masses, the number of likes and shares substitute for real flesh. Detailed speeches of political heavyweights are swiftly uploaded on their pages to give a view to the people not personally present at the time. It allows user to reread and evaluate a political aspirant. Whenever the number of followers reaches a benchmark, it becomes news. It is equated to a person�s popularity among the users. The web provides platform for a virtual parliament where leaders of rival parties can argue the pros and cons. Twitter warfare are common as recently seen in case of members of two national parties. Earlier when a minister inaugurated something or announced a new scheme, it used to become front paper news. Now-a-days it first makes it to the online pages with expert reviews of media, rivals, reporters, columnists. It only demonstrates the fact that internet with its contemporaries plays a major part in the decision making process of today�s youth.

Why are we so vulnerable to social media? It is just because of the effect it has on our senses. In newspapers, we only read about a topic. Televisions allow us to see a video which affects our eyes and ears as well. But on social media we can do all of these along with additional facilities like we can debate with someone, know about the opinion of others. Basically it is like our friend is advising us. This is why political parties are laying emphasis on online propaganda as well. Change is the law of nature. Similarly, intelligentsia has recognized the importance of social media in political system.

Sai Jigyasa Roy

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