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Internet offers valauble exchange of ideas

Everybody isn’t doing it, but the majority is.

At least that’s what it appears to be from the results of a Pew Research Center study conducted during the 2010 midterm elections. According to the study, 73 percent of adult Internet users went online in 2010 to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections or to get involved in the campaign in some way.

The Internet has revolutionized political activity in a positive way by giving the common person access to everything from campaign progress to donation possibilities to fact-checking.

But discretion is always necessary with any source. According to the study, 56 percent of Internet users said it was difficult for them to determine what was true when it came to political information online.

This isn’t any different from what one reads in a newspaper or a magazine or a campaign pamphlet. Active reading and a personal interest in one’s own ideals and views should be reason enough to take a role in our country’s election process.

High ideals aside, the Internet makes it that much easier to connect with others who share one’s political views, and 54 percent of online adults agreed, according to the study. Forty-four percent went as far as to say that the Internet makes it a lot easier.

It should be easier to access information about candidates and our representatives. The Internet provides a sort of citizen watchdog positioning and Americans are taking advantage of their tools.

Political video viewing increased to 31 percent in 2010 from 19 percent in 2006, and 35 percent of online adults looked for information online about candidates’ voting records or positions on issues, according to the study.

Remember the stereotype of John McCain as an ancient, technologically defunct person? He has both a verified Twitter account and a Facebook page. Whether he personally updates them is beside the point.

He recognizes the importance of an online representation, just like “Eisenhower Answers America” commercials helped Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign as did Bill Clinton’s 1992 participation in MTV’s Choose or Lose initiative.

The Internet also offers a living archive of information on leaders of the past. In seconds, one can see videos of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon or George H.W. Bush. People can see what made these and other leaders effective or deceptive. The Internet brings a new relevancy to history and how one can use it.

Another beauty of online politics lies in its ability to cater to the individual’s schedule. Gone are the days when viewers would plan their days around primetime television. Television programming is almost always available online, sometimes within minutes of the original airing.

The Internet is more than just the social portal for the latest pictures uploaded to Facebook or tweets from Charlie Sheen. It’s the way to be connected to ideas and movements that can topple whole nations with a simple invite, as seen in Egypt.

Everybody isn’t following politics online, but they should.

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.

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