In every single day, the internet expands by the social, political, and economic activities of people all over the world; consequently its impact on the participation of citizens grows exponentially. Internet has disregarded geographical distances and separations in this new world, as borders no longer have great impact on limiting people’s activities. People are encouraged to participate and contribute on different aspects which have drawn different experiences and pooled resources together.
Actions and reactions have become instantaneous in cyberspace and this has made internet to be more gratifying and attractive. The resultant effect is that internet has impacted our society in almost all areas of human endeavour. The problem is that the impact has been both positive and negative and as such, caution has been advocated as a means in which citizens should approach the internet. An internet safety plan is thus required in which shall protect children and security in e-businesses has to be more guaranteed (Kedem 1999). Impact of internet on the political systems
We will analyse this impact by first posing a query whether internet has any effect, whether positive or negative on the amount of political participation and the extent it contributes to the generation of a more participative society. Authors had initially suggested that a reduction in levels of political participation could be expected as a result of the use of the internet. They reasoned out that internet brings with it atomisation and a weakening of social cohesion, which can also take up a large part of people’s free time (Davis 1999).
According to Meinardus (2003) the new technology back in 1990s created an internet-euphoria. It was assumed that the digital technology would lead mankind to a better world creating more chances for mass participation in the political and economic market place. These euphoric assessments have given way to more cautious appraisals, as more and more people become conscious of the potential dangers of the technological advancement. Internet has been used by politicians in order to win some scores on different activities and events.
In South Korea, students of digital politics admire what one reporter termed as the most advanced online democracy on the planet. They called it “webocracy” which became apparent to a wider international audience during a presidential election. The election was won by a politician who no longer relied primarily on the traditional mass rallies, but exploited the possibilities of the internet and other modern communication devices, systematically. The politician succeeded in mobilizing millions of mainly young supporters, who logged onto his website to donate money and receive political updates.
He received messages that contained policy recommendations which the candidate promised to consider seriously in his decision making (Meinardus 2003). Cyberspace campaigning has become very prevalent. It is with no doubt that new technology has opened the door to new forms of grass-roots participation. There is every indication that on-line politics are changing the traditional power structures. Internet has therefore made political process more transparent, more communicative, more participatory and hence more democratic.
Internet use has increased democracy level, e-mails with political content have been sent in order to try to influence government decisions through comments posted on websites (Tab Working Report 2005). The ability to face the costs of political participation is a determining factor in the decision whether or not to participate. The impact of internet on political system depends on the availability of resources. The members of a nation with little time, money or other resources might not participate in the use of the internet in sharing their views and comments as the cost of participation is very high for them.
The low cost of accessing internet has on the other hand fuelled the impact of the internet on political systems. Internet allows almost unlimited, fast, and cheap access to political information which can not be easily obtained by other means. People thus have resulted top use of the internet to obtain information which has enabled them participate even the more in political debates, and policies which are about to be implemented (Milner 2002). In deed a Tab Working Report (2005) argues that internet is currently being widely used for communication between political and the public, and routines have developed at various points.
There has been an increase in activities for e-participation and online discussion at the international level. There is also a programmatic consensus that the internet can play an important role in strengthening representative democracy Limitations Internet enables access to political information that make people participate more in political systems. The access of information does not mean that one obtains the capacity to process and interpret that information which is required to make the information knowledge that can be beneficial to the individual and in which one can make rational decisions.
Internet might contain a sea of information but that does not guarantee the quality of such information which might be interpreted wrongly. This may lead to consequences that would have negative impact on the individual if not on the whole society (Polat 2005). The use of internet has created international havoc as countries around the world struggle to develop laws that will permit geographical regulation of a borderless medium. The internet is thought to offer unlimited free speech which can be detrimental and in most cases when the free speech is abused by politicians, the effects are adverse.
Censorship is nevertheless increasing as countries develop tools for limiting content that is available to its citizens Another limitation on the impact created by the internet on the citizen in participating to the political system is the struggle needed to obtain the information from the internet. It requires an initiative by the user to access it. Most information from the internet will mean that the user has to subscribe for it. There are other attractive websites which are social sites that would easily distract the user from obtaining the required political information (Davis 1999). Impact of internet on social system
It is a matter of fact that easy access to the internet, which includes the availability of personal computers with rather cheap prices, introduction of rather reliable internet services and establishment of internet cafes has changed the nature of people’s connection to each other in their social field. Physical proximity is no longer an essential in communicating to one another face to face. This has made it easy for rapid connections across long distances and people are now in a position to write electronic mails that are transmitted virtually immediately throughout the globe (Eskicumali 2010).
Eskicumali (2010, p. 1) argues that many aspects of the lives of people, especially the young people have been changed by the internet. The basic nature of their relationships with one another has been greatly influenced by the internet. This is due to the reason that there has been a global diffusion of information and communication technologies that has expanded the domain of “absent presence” which in turn has resulted to an erosion of face to face community centred relationships. The internet has created new type of social relations and virtual communities that has not been formed ever since.
Theses virtual communities are social network of individuals who interact through specific media, and potentially crossing geographical and political boundaries, so as to pursue mutual goals and interests. The internet has also impacted the social system in form of communication. There is diversity in the internet-mediated communication which is displayed in different sectors such as politics, art, family, and mass media among others. It has become the bearer of different kinds of communication. This is due to several features of internet’s technical and textual structure which has promised to have a crucial impact on communication.
According to Fushs (2008, p. 2) internet is here to stay, it has changed the life of many of us and transformed the lives of our society. It is ubiquitous in everyday life, and it is here that we search for information, plan trips, read newspapers and articles, communicate with each other by chatting, using emails, video conferencing, listen to music and radio, watch videos and other activities. It is in the internet that we have learnt to know other people, develop intimate relationships; maintain contact with one another, access government sites, share ideas and create knowledge together with others.
Disadvantages of Internet Use on the Social System It is evident that from the roles that internet play, computerized network technologies change all areas of society. It poses challenges and opportunities in a networked globalizing world. One of the great disadvantage that internet has on the social is that no one can claim ownership of the internet. As such any body can post anything which has made it the home of political propaganda, racism, pornography and other controversial and illegal material. Internet has brought with it internet crime.
These crimes include the interception of the details of customers’ credit cards and online transactions, hacking into personal, private files with criminal intent, fraudulent web sites taking credit card details from the customers, and the spreading of viruses through the internet. This has made it necessary for steps to be undertaken so as to reassure the general public that the internet is safe. The methods might reduce majority of the cyber crimes, but they do little to net down the risk, that people find themselves in when using internet (Fushs 2008). Conclusion
With scores of people all over the world resulting to the use of internet to carry out various roles and responsibilities, the impact on the political and social system has been amplified. The social network service providers have increased their subscribers, which have provided information that has impacted the social system. Internet has thus enabled people to participate more, on global and national politics since they have been empowered by the easy availability of information. Networking has improved and this has initiated an embrace of diversity in race, religion, and culture.