The first thought that struck me when I read this particular topic was the time when Mr. Narendra Modi tweeted about US President Barrack Obama agreeing to attend the republic day function as the chief guest. Definitely I was amazed by what I had just read in the morning paper. The Prime Minister of India being active on social media! Well this really captured the attention of the young and old.
Today, internet is available to everyone and social media has become a great part of our lives. It started off with Orkut then Facebook, Twitter and these still continue to be top social networking websites. In this fast paced world where everyone is constantly active on social media, it is great to see this tool being extended into the political dome. But is this a boon or a bane?
Youngsters these days have access to information at all times. They have it on their fingertips, literally, considering the extensive usage of smart phones and tabs. They are exposed to a lot on the political aspects too. A single scam is discovered and there are cartoons capes and comments flooding social media. According to a study performed by researchers from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University youngsters these days have a great interest in politics thanks to social media. Mr. Yushu Zhou, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University said that these new communication channels provide large political information, interactive messages for young voters and also reshape the relationships between candidates and voters. Progressing to the idea of whether the youth of India have been swayed or influenced by the use of social media in politics, I would like to explore both sides of this question.
Few people actually believe exactly what they see on social networking sites. This makes them accept the promises made by politicians or political parties without verifying background information. Just as Aicha Enriquez put forth in her article, while we are able to take a peek in the insides and forwards of political personalities through their Facebook or Twitter pages and accounts, we forget that all of these are counterfeit faces made to persuade us into believing them. Everything is mapped to false advertising and trickery. One of the sources from Centre for Counselling and Care, Israel said that social media being the primary source of influence to youngsters, has led them to believe in ideologies put forward by extremists.
On the other hand, a majority of the youth are more aware of the happenings around them. They do understand when to believe and when not to. The youth are well researched and are quite clear in their beliefs and opinions. For example, knowing that Mr. Narendra Modi had to his name positive progress in the state of Gujarat with high development rates, the youth did not vote him in blindly. It was a tough fight put across by the candidates and the youth did their share of research and testing about those who were to become our future leaders. Youngsters observe and absorb all the information, and in the end look at the pros and cons related to each side before they make their decision. Also it is a fact that those who are active on social media are also quite active in their communities and among friends which shows that they have lots of discussions and talks before concluding on their ideas about a political party or leader.
Bringing to light another important topic-participatory politics. The study report, Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action shows substantial number of young people across various groups are engaging in �participatory politics��acts such as starting a political group online, circulating a blog about a political issue, traditional political acts that address issues of public concern. Such participatory acts are interactive, peer-based, and do not defer to elites or formal institutions. Therefore the social media provides them with a forum to start up their own political activity or join one. This allows the youth of today to be independent and also confident in their decisions and actions.
I would like to conclude by saying that, it ultimately depends on the individual on what decisions they would like to make. But as a majority, youth today are far shrewder and intelligent compared to those a couple of years back. They are strong minded people who can stand up for what they believe is the right thing. So I believe that they aren�t and will not be easily swayed by the use of social media in politics.