For this question,I have chosen a journal article entitled ‘Social Media Sites of Politicians InfluenceTheir Perception by Constituents’ by Annie Hellweg from StrategicCommunications of Elon University. In this era whereglobalization and liberalization is a driving force to the way people live, thepolitical landscape has evolved like never before. More and more politiciansare becoming aware about the relevance of utilizing the function of SocialMedia and Internet to their very best to ensure that they gain a certainleverage in their political advantage, whether it is the senior politicians ordeveloping politicians.
With that being said, it is safe to say that theInternet or also known as the new media has benefited the community in manyways because of its wide extension to the public sphere. The function of theinternet has proven to be a powerful tool of communication which has proven tochange the landscape of the political campaigns. In the journal article of mychoice, the researcher have analyzed how social media has been used bypoliticians and acts as a new force that influence the public in variousdemographics with a stronger impact, particularly using Facebook and Twitter asprimary research platform. R. O’Connor (2012)stated that the accelerating impact of the Internet and powerful social mediathat have begun to dominate its use are now rapidly transforming our political,commercial and communications environments while profoundly affecting thefuture of governance and the very nature of democracy itself. It is further onhow social media has changed the political landscape among interested citizensin their respective political issues in their countries. The basis ofthis study was using former president Barrack O’bama as reference.
In 2008, Inthe United States, former PresidentObama officially started his re-election campaign on April 4th, 2011.He announced it on his Twitter channel. He sent the official email to hissupporters and publicized a video spot in which many people advocated hisre-election. In short, Obama decided to be revolutionary in his politicalcampaign and organized a massive campaign using the social media as the mainmedium. Many critics were skeptical on Obama’s mechanism during the campaign asthey believe that social media would not be an effective platform to attractvoters’ attention.
Plus, Twitter was just created at that moment and was stillconsidered a fresh platform for social media. It has yet to receive the sameamount of recognition that other social media sites like Facebook yet. Many people questioned the usage of Twitteras they believe that it does not serve as an effective platform to the seniorlevel citizens who does not have access to social media and they too believethat the social media users which consists mainly of youths and young adultswere not interested in local politics compared to the adults and seniorcitizens. Ironically, this proved them wrong and Obama’s usage of social mediahas generated a high level of interest in politics towards the youths and youngadults on the Internet and became a determining factors for him to win theelection against his opponent then, Jonathan McCain. Not only did Obama was thefirst African-American President in history, he was also the first person tofully-utilize the social media usage in his campaign and has revolutionized thepolitical landscape like never before. Now, many current politicians areadapting the same approach on their political campaigns and influence strategy.
Most of politicians are trying to replicate what Barrack O’bama used throughthe social media tactics In the journal article chosen, theresearcher has pointed out Media Systems Dependency Theory (MSDT) or also knownas Media Dependency Theory to be used to support the research. MSDT wasinitially founded by Sandra Ball-Rokeachand Melvin Defleur in 1976. This theory exists after the advent of traditionalmass media. After the advent of the internet, people were becoming attached tothe new media and vastly used by people throughout the world.
As it became aphenomenon, people seem to more likely dependent on media. Thus, this theorywas created to study the relation. According to www.brittanica.com, media dependency is focused to study the effects ofmass media and its interactions towards users and audience. The theory assertsthat the more a person becomes dependent on the media, the more it becomesimportant to that individual, and the media will also have much more power overthat individual, but the degree of dependency is proportional to individualusage.
When the media is able to satisfy the needs of itsaudience and users, it will cause them to become more dependent. However if themedia satisfy their needs less, then the dependency will become less. This ishighly related to the social stability. According to Galboa I. and Matsui A.
,social stability is the continuous function that is provided to a specificgroup to fulfill their needs and necessity as a society. This can be everydaylife necessity items and also social beliefs, practice and behavior. When thesocial stability is disrupted, such as social change, riot, elections, andconflicts, the audience will have to re-evaluate and make new decisions. Duringthis time, people in the modern world will be dependent on media because thereis a strong need for information to accommodate the change. Therefore, it is agist on how social media functions during elections as it has become a mainsource for seeking information in society nowadays. The researcher of the journal article chosen also discusses that the MSDT that Facebookand Twitter has become a common part of how we seek information, socialize,express opinions, and spend time. In addition, the ease of accessibilitytowards these social media have provided users with rewarding interactionsfulfilling their needs and caused it to become more dependent among the public.The users now are not only not only aware of the elements and information, butalso are able to process them more efficiently.
There fore Facebook and twitterhas become a platform for the political figures to disseminate theirinfluences, and become an effective marketing tool for politicians to buildtheir deeper ‘relationships’ with the audiences. In my opinion, I do believe and agree on the theoryused by the author. However, I also believe that there is more to it ratherthan MSDT. The influence of a political figure does not only resulted fromMSDT. Even though the public nowadays are growing to be dependent towardssocial media in particular, it does not mean that the dependency is the causeof the influence. I would prefer to use the Cultivation Theory (CT) to furtherreport the study of the researcher. CT was initially founded by George Gerbner in 1999 toobserve how the media was influencing people’s behavior through television asit was the popular media of choice at that time.
According to West and Turner(2014), individuals which is exposed to high viewing of television are likelyto perceive and belief what they see. With the current existence of new media,it can be a substituted as an example to explain and prove this theory. Takingsocial media as the channel, we can see how people shape and perceive theirpolitical belief because they tend to process information through mediatedsources (social media) rather than direct experience. Campaigns that politicalfigures practice nowadays are not just to promote themselves, but at the sametime promoting negativity and panting negative perceptions towards theiropponents. Obviously not many or even all people know these political figurespersonally, thus their perceptions is shaped on what they see. Politicalfigures that has most coverage and influence in social media nowadays a moreable to successfully mold the minds of their audience into believing themessages they sent out.
With the marketing and campaigns that political figurescompels through social media, it gradually influences sense of reality towardstheir political beliefs over time. As discussed previously, the success isshown through Barrack O’Bama where he was the most followed political figureduring his campaign, and with that power, he has utilized and cultivated hisaudiences to believe him, resulting to his win in the election at that time.