How Emerging Media Penetrated All Aspects of Our Life
Since the emergence of smartphones and various sorts of applications that cover almost every corner of our lives, the traditional way of lifestyle has completely been altered into a more modernized style with the help of new and advance technologies. Almost every activity we have before the Internet came along can now take on a new online form. From reading news, watching television programs, to sending comments in public where literally everyone can see, and to intimate talks between several individuals.
These new features the online life brought along are also transforming some of our conventional behaviors and enticed great shifts that were partly forced upon traditional beliefs and action codes. For example, the way we consume news has dramatically changed the way how news is produced, distributed and discussed in the whole news-making process, leading to both competitions and incorporations between the older and newer news publishers.
As Chadwick (2017) mentioned in his book, the older and newer news logics introduced hybridity in the news-making business, and is “creating an emergent openness and fluidity, as grassroots activist groups and even lone individuals now use newer media to make decisive interventions.” In this new process of news production, professional journalists are no longer the sole source of information, more amateur bloggers, or elite insiders can speak out and reach to a considerable number of audiences they intend to influence, and to some extent, balanced down the share of influence traditional forms of news production. That, in turn, force more professional journalists to adapt to a newer form of news distribution – they now have to cover news in both traditional ways and more innovative ways in order to maintain the power of professional broadcasting and news coverage.
While audiences receive their news from newer media channels like Twitter, Facebook or other social media platforms, they are also more likely to be encouraged to online political discussions, which leads them further to political participations both online and offline. Social media were created on the essence of sharing and connecting other groups, therefore, when news was also incorporated into these new forms, they are meant to be shared more easily and therefore entice more political discussions online.
Chan, Chen and Lee (2017) used data acquired from random college universities in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China to illustrate the indirect relationship between mobile and social media use and political participation through interpersonal political discussion and political efficacy. The three societies around this study were distinct from western societies in terms of a well-established political structure, but in the past decade have witnessed exceptional surge on internet and mobile penetration.
Their result supported a pre-established O-S-R-O-R model that identified news media use and political discussion as two major mediators between political beliefs and political participation. In this model, the first O stands for political orientations like a society’s demographics, community integration and political interests. Through the assistance of news media use as primary stimuli (S), receivers will express their responses (R) that constitutes the cornerstones for a constructive political discussion. Add on that, the second type of measures of political orientations (second O) – political knowledge and perceived competence in understanding politics, known as the political efficacy of the audience will further link to a reasoning process (second R) – reflections and metal elaborations that are vital to upgrading people cognitions and encourage online and offline participations.
When browsing through the online political discussions, we constantly hold one impression that because of the anonymity and mass crowd base of the internet, social media and mobile users tend to be more irritable and ruder towards different opinions, which may hinder the concept of free speech and democracy. When some users become afraid of verbal attacks and insults, they might receive from speaking out, extreme ideas may lead the direction for online political discussion, which in turn may bring political participations to pass a red line.
Groshek and Cutino (2016) noted three major uncivil behaviors online. The first being flaming, the use of text-based communication to interact with others in a hostile and aggressive way and the second as cyberbullying that often occurred among children and adolescents as an extension online form bullying at schools. In addition, trolling as a latest form came into being in past several years means some online communities acted sincerely to speak out when their true attempts are to provoke or exacerbate conflicts for amusement purposes. The empirical research conducted by the same authors find a direct link between mobile use and greater incivility and impoliteness in social media platform. Considering the future trend on increasing mobile use, we need to be wary of the possible polarization and lack of interest in online political discussion brought upon by the uncivil behaviors on mobile and social media.
Chadwick, Andrew. The Hybrid Media System : Politics and Power. 2nd ed. Oxford Studies in Digital Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Chan, M., Chen, H., & Lee, F. (2017). Examining the roles of mobile and social media in political participation: A cross-national analysis of three Asian societies using a communication mediation approach. New Media & Society, 19(12), 2003-2021.
Groshek, J., & Cutino, C. (2016). Meaner on Mobile: Incivility and Impoliteness in Communicating Contentious Politics on Sociotechnical Networks. Social Media Society, 2(4), .