Can new media can be credited with political action and social movement? There are a few reasons why it could be doubted. First, even if the internet makes political action easier, you still have to be an activist, take the initiative and follow through. But this has been going on forever without the internet, and activists have always found a way. Online action is not enough, you still have to go out there and follow through, but most people probably won’t. In other words, it is mostly talk. In the report Bloggers and Bullets, the authors point out that “new media could make citizens more passive, by leading them to confuse online rhetoric with substantial political action, diverting their attention away from productive activities” (9) It just seems to easy to “opt out” of it, as had been mentioned in class. We can consider a conversation without jumping in.
It is interesting that the authors point out that more traditional forms of media had more of an effect on getting information about Haiti and “put[ing] pressure on the U.S. Air Force to allow relief flights into the Port-au-Prince airport” (5) than new media. New media is somehow not yet engrained in our culture, it does not come naturally, nor does it include everybody. There is a division between the connected and not connected, and most people are not on twitter. New media cannot yet be exactly called a part of civil society because it only represents the online society. Certainly, at least in this country, most people are connected, but I still see it more as a social tool than an ingrained part of our civil life that seamlessly enters our political consciousness. As a matter of fact, it seems that “new media may also alter or reinforce political attitudes.” (9) “A study of the American political blogosphere demonstrated a pattern of partisan clustering that may suggest a polarizing effect for new media.” (8) It seems that these conversations are reflecting our politics rather than shaping them. Activism takes place outside of this talk in the real world, not the virtual one. Also, I don’t believe that Twitter causes revolutions (like the Iranian Revolution, the most significant of the anecdotes for social movement because of new media).
Not yet, anyway.