My research stems from the question, Is our reliance on digital technology (namely, our phones and social media) impairing our ability to form strong community ties and interfering in productive civic/political engagement?
My thesis to this topic, is that social media, the platforms and the devices that circumference online connectivity (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, cell phones, etc.) encourages online engagement and are important factors in the current stratosphere of civil engagement and politics, and the ability to connect online and view current news and affairs, partake in discussion and discourse on web forums, and share our own individual viewpoints via digital share sites not only encourages us to want to be more politically active face-to-face, it ensures that our voices remain a part of the conglomerate of politics, so that they are not drowned out by rarely seen individuals with deep pockets who have tremendous influence over politicians and the words they share.
For my research paper I chose three scholarly journal entries to outline the benefits of connectivity via social media websites, and a fourth article discussing money in politics.
One article that chose, titled Can Information and Communications Technology Enhance Social Quality? (by Claire Wallace) discusses modern advances in information sharing and how online connectivity encourages people via participation to indulge upon other avenues of political engagement, regardless of the empathetic effects of social media on the individual.
Another article that I chose, titled Politics and Ethics in Social Media (by Clare Archer-Lean and Heather Pavitt), talks about how politicians, companies and news organizations utilize social media in various ways to convey specific messages, and how social media platforms allow everyday citizens, or unionized workers to get out their message as rapidly and effectively as previously mentioned groups.
As I am not yet complete with this part of the research, I personally cannot tell you if my own opinion has changed. I have found compelling proof while conducting research (similar to some of the articles that we have read) that social media can in fact come with negative effects, but I do still stand by a belief that these platforms, whether stressful at times or overbearing, gives we the people an extension of ways to voice our concerns about our communities and the overall arena of politics in our Nation.