How Social Media Has Helped Prevent The Democratic Wish (In Response to “How Social Media has helped the Democratic Wish”)

According to Morone’s “Democratic Wish”, individualism is a major contributing factor to the dismantling of the Civic Republican part of the process. Also, in order to bring about the communitarian Democratic Wish, there has to be a wide-spread agreement on changing the status quo. The reason Social Media prevents the Democratic Wish from happening is because those sites promote individualistic and unique views, despite their seemingly unifying tendencies.

Let’s be honest, social media sites are channels for people to be self-interested, to express their true thoughts and desires, and to be exposed to different views and opinions, and this self-reflection makes individualism so much easier to achieve. Due to this increased sense of individualism, it has become more difficult for an overwhelming number of people to bring about a change in the status quo. I’m not saying it has made it impossible, but the increased emphasis on the individual has reduced the need to look out for others. It appears now the extent of having interest in others is either commenting on their status or joining the same group or fan page as them.

It could be argued that social media pages make it easier for movements to gain momentum or public favor, but the amount of people who go past clicking “join group” or “like this page” and end up meeting up as a result of the group or page is a very small number. A movement can seem wildly popular when viewing it’s social media page, but many people simply join the group as a way to appear to be part of a movement, so others would be interested in seeing their personal views on their profile.

People are allowed to be unique on the internet, while the Democratic Wish would require a widespread need to essentially conform to a group that would be in favor of a change in the status quo. Sites like Facebook thrive on their ability to make users feel as if they are unique and non-conformists (despite the conformity of joining facebook to begin with), meaning these people have been encouraged in this era to hold their own opinions and be different from the next profile. (i.e.: Facebook stalking wouldn’t be Facebook stalking without individualism on each profile). People are constantly invited to Facebook events of protests, or are asked to join a page or group that supports a movement, but those are often ignored or joined without much thought. Even though people are exposed to movements like Occupy Wall Street, and can find out anything about it through these sites, people can also view any other movement, and any other page, and absolutely nothing forces them to attend such events, as the other post states.

Social media sites have given everyone a channel, thus reducing the viewership of each channel. This of course makes it more difficult for a movement to emerge from the masses, and for it to gain more passionate supporters because people are part of tons of groups on these sites, all with different goals. Also, these movements can fade more quickly because it seems there is always a new movement emerging, eclipsing the previous one. Social Media sites give people access to find what rings true to them, rather than giving people a choice of few opinions and movements to follow, as pamphlets would have at the dawn of the American Revolution.

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4 Responses to How Social Media Has Helped Prevent The Democratic Wish (In Response to “How Social Media has helped the Democratic Wish”)

  1. paranpi says:

    I agree with you that maybe social media is preventing a general group conformity to bring about a democratic wish as Morone has suggested. I think in a way, it must be due to lack of depth these social medias present when they link a group of people together. For someone to truly believe and identify themselves as a group or with a particular ideology, I feel like that person has to be in constant check with other ideas to compare with their own to see how it stands, the diversity which social media presents. However, because social media presents only a superficial and, in a way, almost insincere bits and pieces of these ideas, it is hard for one to come to really believe in something.

  2. udontempura says:

    “Social Media sites give people access to find what rings true to them, rather than giving people a choice of few opinions and movements to follow, as pamphlets would have at the dawn of the American Revolution.”

    What does it say about a movement then, when out of literally hundreds (if not thousands) of movements, something like Occupy gains traction? Is it not even greater proof that this movement is something that has organically grown from the masses?

    Also in relation to people choosing to conform (ie tweeting a certain topic because others are doing it), I also think that again, this is a sign that a topic indicates a uniform movement of passion, not so much conformity. Usually twitter followers and contributors like to pipe in on any issue, maybe even start their own movement. Something like the Egyptian Revolution did not spark debate on twitter, but instead uniformity. Are the Egyptians conforming when they tweet that they want to end oppression in their country? When individuals are passionate about a movement they unite, not conform.

  3. Amanda Gayer says:

    I think there are valid arguments that social media contributes both to the advancement and hindrance of the democratic wish. You bring up the idea that the social media actually causes a great number of unique, individualistic ideas to spread. Indeed, people tend to express their own opinions via the social media. However, these views may not necessarily be self-interested – social media may also serve as a forum for people to voice their ideas about the community, and some of these people can gain a large following. Indeed, social media has been used to unify people and create movements like the Arab spring revolutions and the occupy wall street protest. Therefore, i don’t think it can be reasonably argued that social media never has the positive effect or bringing people together for the common good.

  4. czli2011 says:

    Social Media is not just to be looked at as something that snuffs out the democratic wish. While it is true that it brings individual viewpoints to surface, it also increases the frequency with which the Democratic Wish is called upon to instigate social change.

    The entire purpose of starting a blog or Facebook page in the first place is to get followers or “likes” to bring other people who agree with you to your cause (whether your cause is Save Darfur or your day spa). Not only that, the internet has allowed social media to reach previously untapped masses who just might conform with you. In that sense, it’s making it easier for movements and communities to grow because it provides an easy, trans-national forum where people with the same opinions but different geographical locations can get together and share information.

    The prevalence of social media brings up the questions: Where are citizens getting their information form? What is the content of that information? Who and what influences citizens? Social media makes the answer to that question- almost anybody! The revolutionary idea of democratic government rested on faith in public opinion. One part is that public opinion would emerge from citizens, not fed to them by other source. Second premise was that we could count on an educated, thoughtful, literate public. In an age of social media, this may prove to be decreasingly true.

    Social media is a powerful tool for sparking the democratic wish. This is why the Chinese government is freaking out over censoring social media websites like Facebook (and more recently, they are trying to muffle blogs by making journalists double verifying blog sources before reporting news stories)

    It’s because social media’s short history has shown us that it is effective in bringing people together.

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