Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet For Democracy

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The Internet is a very powerful tool in contemporary democracy and is an influential part of society. The people depend on this feature to perform certain tasks that they believe will help them accomplish what needs to be solved. Although civilization views the internet as a vital resource to utilize, there are many aspects regarding the web that creates distrust or can be misleading to the public. As a result, the Internet hinders the quality of political debates and policy-making within our community.

The first reason why the Internet hampers with the attributes of debates or policies is because many citizens are ignorant to the world around them. For example, in the article titled How America Lost Faith and Expertise And Why That’s a Giant Problem, the author explains a recent poll made by the Washington Post that questioned whether the United States should use military tactics on Ukraine. Only one in six of the Americans questions were able to properly locate the country of Ukraine on a map. Majority of the people assumed that the country was located in an area over 1,000 miles away. Even though some citizens improperly located Ukraine, they still felt that they should express their opinions on the use of military; the author even noted that the pattern established from this survey showed that those favoring intervention were related to their ignorance. In other words, if the respondent stated that Ukraine was in another continent such as South America, then that person would likely promote the use of military force. The author explains that the reason behind respondents acting in such manner is because they want to have “their opinions treated with deep respect and their preferences honored not on the strength of their arguments or on the evidence they present but based on their feelings, emotions, and whatever stray information they may have picked up.” The study represents civilians not being compassionate about contradictory opinions and are unenlightened by individuals who disagree (Nichols).

In 2015, another study was made that focused on Republicans and Democrats supporting the bombing of Agrabah. About a third of the Republican respondents were in favor of bombing the country, whereas the Democrats’ support level was recorded at nineteen percent. On the other hand, thirty-six percent of Democrats opposed the idea as well as thirteen percent of Republicans. The irony to this study was that the nation of Agrabah was not an actual country, but a fictional place from the Disney movie named Aladdin. The participants did not know about the country, but they continued to give their insight as if it were occurring domestically (Nichols).

Ignorance can affect the quality of political debates and policy-making because many people do not want to hear the opposing argument. Americans have considered this type of tactic as a virtue because it forces your opinion to be heard. As explained in the article by Tom Nichols, “to reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to demonstrate their independence from nefarious elites.” Therefore, citizens assume that having a polar argument from that of an expert’s is a way to prove that it is not necessary to agree with the facts. Additionally, society believes in the ability to speak their mind, but do not want to be told that they are wrong or refuse to understand an opposing argument. Although experts believe that “principled, informed arguments are a sign of intellectual health and vitality in a democracy,” citizens do not think this way. In recent times, the only type of discussions are angry conversations between individuals who want the other person to agree with them even if they have an opposing view (Nichols).

As mentioned in another article titled Why I Needed to Pull Back From Twitter, the writer discusses the social media app being “a place where people who are understandably upset about any number of things go to feed their anger, where the underbelly of free speech is at its most bilious” (Haberman). Society enjoys the ability to comment freely, yet this type of conversation creates issues with toxic outcomes because “most people rate themselves higher than others would regarding a variety of skills” (Nichols). This means that people give themselves more credit than they should and base their arguments off prejudiced views.

Another reason why the Internet obstructs the quality of political debates and public policy-making is because the complexity of the web can make the proper research process difficult for someone who does not understand. Nichols provided a very insight from a very influential historian in his article named Richard Hofstadter who argued that “this overwhelming complexity produced feelings of helplessness and anger among a citizenry.” The intricate manners within society has evolved in a drastic fashion as time went on, which makes people frustrated. Law professor Ilya Somin explains that the complications within the governmental system has resulted in difficulty “for voters with limited knowledge to monitor and evaluate the government’s many activities. The result is a polity in which the people often cannot exercise their sovereignty responsibly and effectively.” Consequently, the Internet does not help an ordinary citizen or student who has no knowledge on the proper articles that can be found online. The person must be aware of the genuine resources being used or else their information is invalid. Confirmation bias is also caused due to the world wide web; this type of bias is known as “the tendency to look for information that corroborates what we already believe.” This type of inclination is considered to be dangerous in the field of study, hence the reason why so many professionals steer away from the issue with reality checks and peer-reviews. Experts can ensure this type of bias is not presented in their work, but normal citizens do not have the same advantage (Nichols).

Even though the Internet has disadvantages, the digital era allows the people to stay connected on the issues that occur nationwide or worldwide. Society has the ability to become more involved with the different aspects of government, while utilizing their democratic rights through freedom of speech. Citizens are becoming more empowered by their capability to access such a vast amount of knowledge and strengthen democracy. An example for this would be found in the article How the internet is transforming democracy, which states that the European Citizens’ Initiative, which gave EU citizens the power to participate in EU policies and legislation. In order for the initiative to be implemented, the policy “must be backed by minimum 1 million citizens from a minimum of 7 EU countries in a variety of fields” (Kirkhope). The proposal has to be approved by the people, which supports the fact that the Internet enhances the people’s voice in government. Public officials also provide information online that makes the people feel more involved on the issues, while uploading public data to show that the government is becoming more reliable and open in their research. This ensures that the people will trust in the system more as well as feeling confident with the politicians involved in legislation.

With that being said, there is still a lot that has to be done in order to ensure that the Internet fosters beneficial debates or policies. This is because the Internet is not the best resource to find factual information. There are more than a billion websites that exist—in a sense, there is a lot of information given from various sources, but it can be difficult to ensure that the website is a reliable one. The people “have to navigate through a blizzard of useless or misleading garbage posted by everyone from well-intentioned grandmothers to propagandists for the Islamic State (or ISIS)” (Nichols) There are a lot of ordinary people who attempt to give expert information without the proper research and create a website to spread their opinionated knowledge. The process for any study obligates a person to be capable of finding genuine information, analyze the research found, and then apply it to use for their own experimentation. This is a procedure that professionals know how to follow, but sadly normal citizens do not feel the need to deal with this tedious task.

As a result, there is so much distrust in the virtual system. “There is still statistical data which shows that people are still afraid to do business on the internet which is a shame” (Kirkhope). There is a vast amount of scammers trying to steal information, which has resulted in the people having no confidence in their online experience. If they cannot trust the web to ensure that their information is safe when checking a bank account or purchasing an order online, it can be difficult for citizens to feel that they are using trusted websites with accurate facts. Haberman also discusses the fact that Twitter acts in the same fashion as a website because her article mentions that “the downside is that everyone is treated as equally expert on various topics.” No matter what form of the Internet you are involved with, there will be citizens who believe that their perspectives are more practical than a professional’s.

In conclusion, the Internet does result in the hindering of resourceful and influential debates and policies. Falsified and opinionated information seems to overstep its boundaries and attempts to take the place of factual research given by experts in the field. There are many ways to overcome such issues, but it can be difficult for average citizens to understand or comprehend. This negatively affects the quality of political discussions, as well as the proper decisions regarding policies being implemented by the public. The people need reliable and affluential guidance towards their overall goals—the Internet is not the most trustworthy resource to achieve this.

Cite this paper

Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet For Democracy. (2022, Nov 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-internet-for-democracy/

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