For hundreds of years, Americans of different generations
engaged in politics in common places and in similar ways - the town square, in
political pamphlets, newspapers, in-person activities, speaking out publicly in
offline spaces and more recently in online spaces. Today, the youngest adults are more likely to
engage in political behaviors on social networking sites than in any other
venue. Our global village is more
interconnected than ever before - with more than 1 billion people, including
many young people, using Facebook, to connect, share, and engage in politics
While there are some modest differences between the younger
and older generations in the traditional ways of getting involved in politics
it may not come a surprise that Social networking sites now stand in contrast
to these other venues.
Political engagement on social networking sites is
especially commonplace among the youngest Americans, as two-thirds (67%) of all
18-24 year olds (and nearly three quarters of those young adults who use social
networking sites) engaged in some sort of social network-related political
activity in the 12 months preceding a new survey by Pew (click here for more).
Facebook is a global service of immense scale
and complexity - over 1 billion people use Facebook every month, and every day
there are more than 2.7 billion Likes and over 2.4 billion content items shared
with friends (click here for more).
Survey's of my students indicate another change may be
taking place. While most student still have a Facebook page - many report not
using it as much anymore. One student emailed last week asking for my Twitter
name saying, "Facebook does not work for me. It is too much work."
There is no real data just yet quantifies this Facebook
trend. But in recent reports, Facebook has warned investors for the first time
that younger users are turning to other services, particularly Instagram, as a
substitute for Facebook.
For the younger generation, Instagram - and, more recently,
SnapChat, an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear -
is the opposite of Facebook: simple (click here for more).
Since older adults tend to be politically active
but also relatively unlikely to use social network site what changes do you
foresee in politics?
While Facebook, with its college student roots, is
often a brief form of communication what effects on our political discussion do
you expect from the youngest of trendsetters - as millions of them turn to
Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat?