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Politics in Times ofPolitics in the Time of Twitter

Iván Sánchez Marañón

Iván Sánchez Marañón, student first year student of the Degree
of Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) of the
School of Philosophy y Letras, brings us a valuable reflection on the irruption of social
on the irruption of social networks in the political speech .
A fundamental text for these turbulent times.

Politics in the Time of Twitter

Social networks have become the cornerstone of our leisure time. The new generations, those born during the "digital boom", hardly read newspapers, watch television or listen to the radio. It is a fact that traditional media have been losing strength for years and their end feels ever closer

As a result, the world has been adapting to the fast pace of social media, and content that was once consumed through the old media is struggling to find its place in the online maelstrom. Such is the case of politics that, under the spotlight of the online world, few are able to recognise it.

The advent of social networks has changed politics enormously, to the point that they have become the nerve centre of its activity. Today, they are the medium of expression par excellence for politicians ( challenge to think of a politician without a Twitter account) who, by tweeting, have had an enormous influence on electoral events over the last five years. 

We need only recall the trial of Facebook y Cambridge AnalyticsCambridge Analytics, accused of being determining factors in Donald Trump's victory and in the Brexit referendum. The controversial use of data by these companies has marked a turning point in the polarisation of the world political scene. 

Policy 2.0

Politics in the Time of TwitterIt is clear that the development of social media has brought a number of benefits in the field of politics.. They make it easier for individuals to express their political ideas, find out more information about other ideologies, debate any topic, learn about political alternatives and keep abreast of current political status , both in their own and other countries.

However, social networks can greatly cloud the good development of politics and even represent a setback. The immediacy that is so characteristic of the Internet, mixed with the ancestral political habit of seeking an easy vote, results in both the employment of fake news and other forms of defamation, as well as a considerable simplification of the message. 

Such simplification of the message may not seem, at first glance, to be a bad thing if it is understood that it aims to reach the maximum issue of voters. But it becomes harmful when the senders of the message oversimplify the contents to the point where they stop using rational arguments and focus on making more noise.

Consequently, the political speech is undergoing a process of decline. It no longer tries to convince the public why its position is the right one by giving reasons. On the contrary, the political speech has now been transformed into a tasteless spectacle and tries to persuade potential voters through the employment of flashy but empty, emotional and fallacious rhetoric. 

Instead of proposing ideas, politicians seek the destruction and humiliation of their opponent. Some consumers of news via social media remember the last zasca they saw on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, but they are unlikely to remember the last well-reasoned and well-argued speech carried out by a politician. 

Politics in the Time of Twitter

Moreover, the fact that political discourse is increasingly focused on emotions and that it seeks to defame the adversary through hoaxes and personal attacks results in two political diseases: dogmatism and tension

If the first is negative because it makes the opposing parties in a discussion unwilling to engage in dialogue, the second is really dangerous because it makes such discussions very likely to end in violence (for example, the issue of Catalan independence).

Politics in the Time of Twitter

Solutions 2.0 

In the face of this painful regression of politics caused by social networks, the question arises as to the possible solutions. Although this is not work simple, the answer lies in a series of actions and attitudes that we must adopt if we want politics to return to form and recover content. 

First of all, the political speech must respect certain rules of conduct. As obvious as it may seem, let us remember that even on congress our politicians distil a repertoire of insults coated in demagoguery. 

Secondly, we must be very careful to verify that the information we receive is not only truthful, but that it is not taken out of context. And thirdly, we must be critical, we cannot fall into the trap of vague arguments, fallacies and emotional speeches.

If we really want politics to serve to improve our lives, we cannot leave it in the hands of demagogues and populists who use tools like twitter to make statements. To do this we must fight them, only if we are capable of not falling for or buying their game and confront them by exposing their traps and tricks will we be able to bring about change. It will undoubtedly be an uphill battle, but it is a battle worth fighting.

Politics in the Time of Twitter



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