The Internet has become a space for people to express themselves, to dig up information, even mobilizing the masses. This is evident in the social movements in Tunisia in 2011 ago when the Internet became a mass mobilization drive which later became the trigger for the emergence of large demonstrations in Egypt, Libya, and Syria which indirectly affects the social and political conditions in the Middle East. In addition to the Arab world, protests also occurred in European countries such as Greece, the UK and other countries due to the economic crisis that hit these countries. While in Russia protests against Putin also happens to be president again, and the United States with the siege wall street which inspired the occupy movement around the world to occupy economic centers. The protests were going on in the world is the fruit of the disclosure of information contained in the internet media, so the media is a new space for people’s democracy.
Internet’s role in the era of democracy
Internet is not new in the world of communications, media type is in the category of new media in the form of a message definition information through internet media such as email, live streaming, mailing list, or mobile phone. One of the characteristics of new media is the speed in conveying information than the print or electronic media. Through one of the definitions of social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as support for smart phones make people anytime and anywhere can access and disseminate information more quickly. The social media presence and their support made sophisticated communication tools community interaction in the world is getting faster and up to date so it has its own significance in the current democracy.
Representative democracy that has been adopted by many countries is the interaction between the elite and the masses, where over both the executive and legislative representatives society expects her voice can be heard or be one input to state policy. Communication is established also take place over the lateral or who are active leaders voiced sound mass. While the mass itself sometimes felt his voice was not represented and tend to monopoly by state leaders. As an example that occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya where people tend expression was silenced by the power elite who do not want to hear the aspirations of the masses. Thus the masses seek other channels to express his voice through the internet with various advanced supporting facilities.
Benjamin Barber in “Which Technology and Which Democracy” reveals that the net offers an alternative to mass communication and voice to communicate with each other without intermediaries so that there is the political elite discourse against hierarchical communication pattern in politics with new media thus encourage direct democracy. Through rapid spread his message through a smart phone to make the dialogue that exists between the mass is so strong that political institutions are sometimes missed by this process. The democratic process may be very effective to establish a strong relationship between civil society so that the role of political institutions corrupt and elitist sometimes been limited by the virtual communities. Mass in this community can interact with each other without fear of expression itself is not accommodated by politicians or policy makers.
Mass shift of using the internet as a sound alternative to the existing instruments of democracy as a sign that there is disharmony communication between state agencies and the public. This also occurs in the western world where social movements mediated through social media channels. Although it has become conventional media consumption, but the use of alternative media such as social networking and others have indicated that the channels of communication deadlock between the elite and the masses. So the internet is becoming an alternative media to provide information to the masses especially the smart phone support to make the information and messages delivered to the masses sooner.
Lessons for Indonesia
For Indonesia, the demonstration of the phenomenon mediated by the Internet media and the role that social media can influence a warning to the elites in this country. Since there was already evidence of the internet has become a democratic alternative for the people when collecting coins for Prita when facing problems with Omni hospital, has received support broad participation in society. There are many more cases and events in Indonesia using the Internet as a channel expression, because there are some who think that the media space through the participatory communication is established between the community and this is a challenge for the political elite in Indonesia. The political elite should be touching his heart to the people who are now starting to feel the effects of the global crisis as the threat of food, exports began to decrease, the increase in world oil prices, and so forth. Because if pemipin and elites in this country and have no conscience undoubtedly mindful participation in internet media manifests itself in a street movement that may be incident Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya over to Indonesia.