Coleman’s Notes: “accidental exposure” to politics on social media increases participation

Print More

Joey Coleman/The Public Record

Hamilton City Council Chambers during the April 9, 2018 municipal election information night hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs

OPINION

Sharing political news and ideas on social media is an effective means of boosting voter turnout, a 2015 academic study of political participation finds.

The findings “suggest that inadvertent encounters with political content on social media are likely to reduce the gap in online engagement between citizens with high and low interest in politics, potentially broadening the range of voices that make themselves heard”.

The researchers found among British respondents “scarcely interested in politics” received a 113% boost in their online political activity from an increased in “frequency of accidental exposure to politics on social media”.

This may, in part, explain why conspiracy ideologies and extreme polarization seems more common. Many people are being accidentally exposed to conspiratorial content, and then engaging with it themselves. Over time, people come to believe it, especially since so many of these ideologies provide easy answers to complex issues.

Thus, disengaging from social media will not solve polarization – and I agree social media is exhausting at time.

Sharing good context, engaging in thoughtful conversation, and being understanding especially when it is hard to be understanding, is how we help improve our politics and our society.

If you are reading this column, you are likely already well engaged in thinking about politics and the issues which will decide your vote.

You may also share a desire to see more people vote, and for a more deliberative approach by all of us to voting.  This is the mission statement of The Public Record, and what I’m working to do with the upcoming relaunch of The 155 Podcast.

We could see a federal election as early as this fall, however, spring 2021 seems more probable. (But who knows with 2020, anything is possible)

No party won a majority of seats in the 2019 federal election. Minority governments average 505 days (1 year, 140 days), the current minority government is just past the halfway mark of this average (255 days as of August 22, 2020).

In 2022, the Ontario provincial election is scheduled for June 2nd and the municipal election is scheduled for October 24nd.

The time is now to start the conversations with your friends about issues. The most important thing is to have a dialogue, remember, we wish to improve our politics and respond to the polarization which divides us within ourselves and from each other.

Production Details
v. 1.0.0
First published: August 22, 2020
Last edited: August 22, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman

Edit Record
v. 1.0.0 original version

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *