The Great Debate of Social Media and Human Behaviour

By Samantha Watson Penner

In 1960, the first televised Presidential Election was broadcast for an audience much larger then those who stood in front of them. People could crowd around the television and analyze everything move Richard Nixon and J.F. Kennedy made instantly. Nixon made the vital mistake of not wearing makeup and people noticed how sweaty and nervous he looked. Citizens of the United States attributed it to one reason why he was not seen as fit to be the next President. Today we have gone a huge step forward. Any news about the 2016 Presidential Election is accessible from our phones, tablets and laptops 24/7. Kapko (2016) highlights how Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump have both utilized social media to their advantages during this presidential campaign. It is easy for people to form opinions both educated and uneducated due to the readily available outlets of places on the internet that are discussing the election.
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When discussing social media with my friends, it sparked a couple interesting discussions. Everyone had the same notion that with being active members of social media, you need to be cautious of the things that are posted on the Internet. People voice their opinions regardless of whether they are educated on the topic and the only restrictions on what you say or do is based on your own moral code and etiquette. I asked two of my friends and it quickly became a topic of conversation in a daily group text.

Ian – “Social media has allowed complete anonymity even in an open world as it is.”

Corbin – “I agree! Social media has killed the monoculture. You can connect with people of similar beliefs no matter how far out you are.”

Ian – “I think the social conduct had been completely changed because it is giving those who didn’t have a voice before a voice now.”

I think when it comes to viewing information about the 2016 Presidential Election for example; there is so much information on social media to guide opinions, views and ultimately influence human behaviour. Kapko (2016) states how “social media acts as glue for like-minded people, and it can reinforce their confirmation biases.” A survey was recently conducted that concluded 35 percent of people 18 to 29 years old believe that the most helpful tool for gaining information on the 2016 Presidential Election is social media (Kapko, 2016). Social media has become an outlet for people to voice their opinions about the election and almost hide behind their computer screens. I think that Clinton and Trump have both successfully used social media to their advantages because they have created these online campaigns that allow everyone to feel a part of.

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Sources 

History.com Staff. (2010). The kennedy-nixon debates. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/kennedy-nixon-debates

Kapko, M. (2016, September 29). How social media is shaping the 2016 presidential election. Retrieved from: http://www.cio.com/article/3125120/social-networking/how-social-media-is-shaping-the-2016-presidential-election.html

 

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