Social Media is Good for Public Discourse

Public discourse is basically a fancy word for public discussion in regards to big social and political issues or trends occurring. These discussions can often influence Americans to think one way or another. A lot of the public discourse occurring recently has been in relation to our controversial political climate. Especially on facebook, political parties are taking part in large often controversial topics. They argue back and forth and ultimately no one truly wins the argument over social media. However, even though no side “wins” the argument, social media has truly revolutionized the way we go about public discourse and ultimately is good for fueling these types of discussions. Social media has enabled two-way conversations where you can comment and people can comment back to you. Traditionally leaders would do the talking at us, and we couldn’t really talk back.

The biggest argument I have to demonstrate why social media is good for public discourse is the fact that “social media has served as the catalyst which has helped mobilize disenfranchised populations to express their frustrations about the economic and political status quo and ultimately lead to populist dissent” (Al-Atraqchi, 2011). It is pivotal that everyday people can feel apart of important discussions revolving around political and social issues. Social media enables anyone to get involved, speak out, and even learn about political and social issues that traditionally only leaders discussed publically. Even more importantly, I think social media is especially good for public discourse in places where “state control of the media is inflexible and unwilling to cater to dissenting voices” (Al-Atraqchi, 2011). In repressive environments like this, social media is an unrestricted outlet for people to soak up information and comment on issues they care about.

Some may argue that social media has created a bigger divide between political parties and people who differ in opinions around big political and social issues. Using this argument, you could claim social media is mad for public discourse. However, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become a main source for social interaction. This means that the public discourse occurring on social media can be easily accessed, which is so important for the ability to freely learn about important topics. Social media is an outlet to gain feedback on issues. Also, officials can use social media to collect important public data and it can help them determine how the general public is feeling about certain issues or trends. Furthermore, by analyzing social media we can even predict if certain issues will become amplified, suppressed, or even distorted.