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The Internet: Politically Speaking

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Today’s blog post is going to be slightly different - I’m taking on a political slant that’s been inspired by a minor “debate” that was sparked in one of my classes in school today.

It was argued that the majority of the Internet’s population is not interested in politics, but rather in entertainment-related content (e.g. talent shows, gossip news, movie news etc.)

Now perhaps this held true before, say, 2007. But, as we started getting closer to the elections for the United States’ president, a lot changed, and the face of politics became fiercer than it ever was. And we can all thank one man for this: President Barack Obama.Even today, months after the historical inauguration, journalists and political analysts are drawing comparisons with the success of Obama’s campaign and the campaigns of their own local politicians (a notable example is of the recent 4th democratic elections in South Africa). This has to confirm the success of such a campaign, a campaign that utilised technology, and specifically the brute power of Web 2.0, to such an extent that it helped win him the presidency and paved the way to his walk into the history books.So, the real question here is this: does the Internet, one of our most powerful means of communication, have a user base that leans toward the politically sympathetic, or the entertainment-crazed? The answer to that, dear reader, lies in how well Obama, the first politician in history to use this method so thoroughly, performed. And I think we can all agree that, judging by the fact that he’s now president, it’s gone pretty well. One of the most talked about aspects of the Obama campaign was the mobilising of the youth and the instigation it created in youth interest in politics. In fact, one of the biggest voting demographics for the Democrats (Obama’s political party) was the youth demographic. This suggests that this particular campaign created great interest in politics in the youth of America, a country where about 80% of its youth spend more than two hours on the Internet (thus making them part of the online citizenship). And, in turn, this tells us that, yes, users of the Internet do have an interest in politics, but most of them maintain this interest along with having an interest in other sectors - e.g. technology, or the aforementioned entertainment-related content.

So from this, we can conclude that the Internet has a particularly large interest base in politics, and I think the time has finally arrived for political parties to harness this power to enhance their campaigns, gather a larger support base, and ultimately refresh the way politics is done.

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