CAN SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING STRATEGIES SHAPE DEMOCRACY?

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Democracy is a beautiful thing. It allows all citizens to take part to the political life of a nation, theoretically giving them equal rights and duties. It's built upon the belief that everybody should be provided with identical opportunities in life, and should be treated equally in front of the law. Its main principle is that nobody should be discriminated because of their financial situation, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity, and that no one should be permitted to violate the founding ideals of egalitarianism.

Democracy is built upon 3 pillars (or branches), each of whom holds a different power in society. These authorities fully embody the essence of a government represented by the people, complementing each other in the most efficient manner. They are also shaped so that they can - if needed - restrain each other, which is paramount importance especially to prevent any abuse or supremacy of one over the other. The legislative branch is represented by those people writing the law, the executive by those who apply it, and the judicial by the individuals who interpret it inside the courts. In the absence of any of these 3 bodies, the government can't run systematically.

Today the media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy, due to its important rule in shaping public opinion. It provides a connection between the people involved in the 3 branches above described and the general population, in absence of which the public wouldn't be able to keep in touch with the types of laws that are made, and the impact they will have on their lives. Furthermore, it opens a window on what happens around the world, so that everybody can learn from it and generate ideas on how to improve the health of their democracy. The media is considered this powerful mostly because it can alarm the people of the nation when any of the 3 above authorities commit a crime, breaking the very same law they sworn to follow. The true essence of the media is publicly exposing those officials who abuse the power they received from the very same people they're exploiting. It's a difficult task, by the media is growing, and so are its precious tools.

Newspapers, radio and television built the backbone of this additional branch, but these days Internet provides maybe the most effective tool to fight corruption and injustice. The cyberspace offers unlimited information about just about anything imaginable, and countless options to find that data. Billions of people surf the World Wide Web every day, increasing its power in ways that go beyond our imagination. And some leaders have started to use some of this power to bring democracy to their countries. We have seen with our eyes how very simple social media strategies has been been able to propel the Arab Spring for the last two and a half years. And yet, this is only the beginning.

People from all over the world are now actively blogging on the Internet, with many of these writers having a huge follow. Some of them use their "power" to inspire and motivate others, and this can generate an entire movement. The world has always had its leaders, but today they can attract supporters at a speed never experienced before. These innovative pioneers of the virtual world are rewriting the manual of attraction of the masses, aiming at mastering unprecedented strategies of how to successfully establish interpersonal relationships without even a handshake. It's hard to believe, but it's happening.

Financial power is part of the picture. People are being paid to write blogs all over the world, and while doing so they influence other people. Some companies provide websites to post blogs in which the writers are rewarded for submitting their stories. Film Annex is one of them, and it uses a "BuzzScore" to measure the ability to engage a following in the content that is provide on the blogs. In their words, "every time you write a blog post and share it on your social network, you engage and influence others. The BuzzScore looks at the number of your blog posts and their reach on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google. Users with a high BuzzScore are rewarded for their work." In this way anybody in the world can become a leader, and the amazing part is that he or she will be earning money while doing it.

We all have seen how social media affects pop culture, but what astonishes me is that it can also influence society to the point of shaking its political system. If one person blogging on a social media network can provoke a chain reaction of thousands, then we can understand how these emerging strategies can shape the democracy in which we live. For as long as we have freedom of speech, the media world will continue to evolve tirelessly, so that anybody out there will be given the chance to have their voice heard, and initiate actions that can improve the lives of other people.

Social media: the next generation of our democracy.

Giacomo Cresti

http://www.filmannex.com/webtv/giacomo

follow me @ @giacomocresti76



About the author

Giacomo

As Annex Press Senior Editor, I'm an educator writing about 3 main topics: fitness, digital literacy and women's rights. I've been traveling extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe, especially in underdeveloped countries where women are considered second class citizens, and deprived of their most basic rights. Many of…

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