Politics and Power in the Social Media Era

Introduction

Communication is the process that involves the exchange and transmission of information using words, sounds, and signs. It can also involve speaking, writing, or using other forms such as telephone or internet to express opinions and ideas to other people. In addition, communication involves the process of sending, receiving, and even encoding messages using oral and written medium of communication in order for one to express his thoughts and feelings. In human beings, communication is very important, since it distinguishes human beings from other creatures in the world. Various forms of human communication enable people to exchange their ideas, views, opinions, and thoughts. These include interpersonal and public communication, both of which involve the source, message, channel, and receiver for communication to be effective.

Social media is a form of electronic communication that involves the use of online technology and internet-based softwares to enable people to interact and exchange ideas, opinions, views, thoughts, and feelings. This form of communication has made it easy and convenience for people to communicate and share information globally. Today, important information and topical news is passed and shared globally, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter (Li & Bernoff, 2008). This has fostered positive effects on most top leaderships in various countries, as leaders are now more democratic and more vigilant due to fear of exposure through the social media (Turkle, 2012).

Social Media and Power Balancing In the Global Village

Social media has become the cheapest and fastest means to communicate globally. For example, through websites, Facebook, Twitter and other internet-based online technologies, people can now share their ideas and thoughts, interact, and exchange views each day easily. Due to this faster and easy communication, the world has become a global village where people can communicate and exchange ideas anytime despite the distances and location they are on the global map. In addition, this has changed the leadership style globally and there is a trend of power shifting to the people worldwide (Dutton, 2011).

To begin with, social media has made most leaders around the world to be more open and accountable, thereby allowing other people, especially the public, to be involved in the decision making process in various government policies and company or institutional policies. Again, due to this openness of leaders, there is increase of power in the hands of the public, as they are given the right to share and contribute their opinions in the various national policies. This again has made those who are in power to be more transparent and clear in their decision making process; indeed they seek for the best solutions before making decisions. Today, social media has made a lot of information about leaders to be available online such that, anyone is able to share it with ease and convenience; the advantage with this is that, it makes leaders to be more ethical and professional in whatever they do (Shirky, 2011).

In addition, through social media, people are able to interact with their leaders and share information with them using their social media accounts and web pages. This enhances power shifting to the people as they communicate with their leaders. Besides, this interaction helps people to know their leaders and share important information that has impact to their personal lives. Social media has also encouraged leaders to lead by example, as they are aware that everything they do will be under scrutiny from the people who have been given enormous power by the social media (Turkle, 2012).

Furthermore, the use of social media has given people enormous freedom, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings about various issues affecting them or even to confront their leaders when they are wrong. These criticisms directed to the leaders by the public allow leaders to be accountable, cautious and responsible in all the decisions they make. Indeed, people sharing information through the social media have propagated the recent political uprisings in some autocratic Arabian countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. This shows how the social media has given voice and power to people, thus making leaders to be more cautious in the type of leadership they embrace (Lewis, 2011).

Moreover, through the use of social media, leaders are always pressurized to conform with the public demand, hence causing them to do what the public requires. The social media has also made those in power to be more selective in the form of language and types of speeches they make in public. This is because if they use unaccepted language, for example abusive language, they would be exposed immediately on social media. This makes those who are in power to use supportive and ethical language when communicating in public and when sharing information (Turkle, 2012).

Another way through which social media has contributed to the power shifting is through team building and collective action. Through the use of social media, it is always easy for people to come together and take actions on the various problems affecting them (Lewis, 2011). Indeed, most problems in the society are today being shared through the social media. Again, it is through the social media that the society always becomes aware of the various government plans, thereby taking appropriate actions if the plans are not in order or beneficial to the community. Therefore, through social media, leaders become less selfish and hardworking towards building the community (Shirky, 2011). In fact, it is through the use of social media that people get information, support, and even knowledge about the current happenings in the society.

Today, social media has provided a platform where people and those in power promote and share their social needs and even petition the government for security issues. In addition, the social media allows those who are in power to share the solutions they have for problems encountered in the society. This makes provision of solution of our problems to be faster and easier; hence, power shifting is achieved through the use of social media as a form of communication (Lewis, 2011). Furthermore, social media has been one of the places that the public today uses to complain about social problems affecting them, which need to be addressed by those who are in power.

Through this sharing of problems, those who are in power provide proper and quicker solutions, hence power shifting. Again, people get to know more about the government’s plans using social media, leading to more awareness and personal growth. Indeed, although freedom of expression in social media has led to some ugly incidents that have forced some countries to limit use of the social media, a significant number of countries, including the US, has encouraged the use of social media as a form of democracy thus giving more power to the people (Shirky, 2011).

From a global perspective, social media empowers people from across the world to share their problems and receive insight on how effectively such problems have been resolved elsewhere. This allows the authorities and leaders to use case studies of others to solve problems they have at hand. Nevertheless, the power of social media has allowed the public to access and participate in important decision-making (Seib, 2012).

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is clear that the use of social media as a medium of communication has enhanced power shifting to the public globally. This has been achieved because of open, transparent, and accountable leadership witnessed in today’s society. Indeed, leaders are forced by the uncontrollable flow of information in the social media to be cautious and accountable to all their decisions. Generally, social media mostly used by public include Facebook, twitter, emails and other online-based softwares. In addition, through the use of social media, the public can now share views and ideas, thus influencing the process of finding solutions to the problems in a constructive manner – this shows shifting of power to the public. Lastly, as discussed above, social media has forced leaders in today’s society to share their plans with the public, as well as involve the public in government policy decision-making process, which is a show of power shifting to the public.

Nevertheless, social media has created an open environment by empowering people with power, which was traditionally vested with those in power. Indeed, the public now has more influence on what leaders do or need to do, as these leaders are always under the scrutiny of the public. Moreover, technology has allowed information accessibility more easy such that, it is not always possible to conceal information that has direct effect on the lives of people in the society. Lastly, as the world becomes a global village, people from diverse regions can easily share ideas, opinions, and any other vital information that will help them change their way of doing things to conform with the needs of the society. Moreover, this global interaction will help people to learn different ways of solving problems that they may face based on how such problems were solved in other areas.

Reference List

Dutton, W 2011, Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet, UNESCO, Paris. Web.

Lewis, M 2011, Social Media Leadership: How to Get Off the Bench and Into the Game, Social Strategy 1, New York. Web.

Li, C & Bernoff, J 2008, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Harvard Business Press, Massachusetts. Web.

Seib, P 2012, Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era, Palgrave Macmillan, New York. Web.

Shirky, C 2011, The Political Power Of Social Media: Technology, The Public Sphere, And Political Change, 2013. Web.

Turkle, S 2012, Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other, Basic Books, New York. Web.