Arrival and popularity of social media have changed our political lives forever. One very tangible change is that – intermediaries of political discourse – newspapers, TV companies, political pundits, and even political parties have lost their edge. Leaders, can by pass these intermediaries and connect directly with their electorate – this is having profound impact on our political systems.
The power index attained on social media can have a massive impact on the political future of a leader. Through Twitter and Facebook, leaders can stay in constant touch with their intended audience. Gaining followers on social media helps in real life politics. Its features such as instant messaging/posts to masses, option to go live for occasions can further their political interests. Staying active on social media for leaders is like staying relevant and alive in the minds of the public.
World leaders like Narendra Modi have a sort of toxic relationship with media. Traditional media (newspaper, publishing houses, TV News channels) have become biased, and they have chosen sides based on belief and money power. However, popular leaders can avoid such media altogether and connect with their followers, directly via social media without any need for these intermediaries. The public can receive information and views straight from their leaders. It is a huge leap forward in terms of how leaders communicate with their audience.
Donald Trump & Narendra Modi: Social Media standings have immensely helped their political careers.
Use of social media has impacted Indian democracy so much that it has started to behave like a mix of American and British form of democracy (Presidential and Parliamentary). Even though people do not directly vote of Prime Minister candidate in Indian elections, social media is making them vote for the face of the Prime Minister rather than local leaders. Mr. Modi does not need intermediaries to speak for him. He interacts with his audience directly using Twitter.
This is a really great step for stabilizing governments in India. As people will vote for a particular leader, they are basically voting for a majority government with more power and authority. A strong leadership will mitigate decision and delay risks which should lead to better performance. Cyclone Fani’s impact in Odisha has been controlled because whole operation was under control of its chief minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik.
Social media encourages government and elected leaders to respond to constituents’ concerns directly on the platform in (near) real-time. Also, it helps them to keep a record of their work. It can be used in future elections by them to promote themselves.
The flip side of usage of social media in politics is that it can be manipulated by influential parties, interest groups and organizations flush with money, which can further a viewpoint by rigorous digital marketing or more gentle persuasion using advanced algorithms which understand people’s preferences and deploy overt and covert strategies to influence them. This challenge should be taken up by the thought leaders of the day.