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Live Debate with the NYC Political Forum-Is Social Media Good for Democracy?

As I sit here typing away on my blog, with Facebook and Twitter open in other tabs above me, and with my phone next to me having its own Instagram, Twitter and Facebook apps, one can see that social media is a big part of my life (maybe too much?). So when I was asked to participate in a debate discussing social media, I could hardly say no!

Which is why I am happy to say I had the pleasure in participating this past week in another live debate with the NYC Political Forum. The motion for the evening was Social Media is Good for Democracy. I, along with my partner Kanishka Sukumar were assigned the opposing side, and our opponents, arguing in favor of the motion were Shaheed Majid and Maim Hoque.

The topic is quite an interesting and relevant one, in my opinion. Social media has become such an omnipresent part of most of our lives and its myriad impacts cannot be denied. These impacts, particularly on the state of democracy, are numerous and span the gamut, both in their global breadth and type of impact.

Although the ability to amplify speech, connect individuals of all walks of life and location, and give access to the ability to protest would seem like purely blessings for democracies, cracks in the design of the sites as well as human imperfection has also allowed for intrinsic problems. Social media has contributed to increased polarization and hyperbolic speech, as well as the spread of lies and misinformation. Moreover, it has given room for nefarious actors to manipulate the tool to sow confusion, distrust and chaos.

To be totally honest, I am still confused on my overall opinion of whether social media is a net good or bad right now for democracy. However, I do feel like it certainly needs a multifaceted reform effort from both the public and private sector, as well as from individual efforts. In fact, I believe that this blog is my own little version at reform--an effort to help dilute some of the polarization and extremism.

Although my side lost the debate for the evening, it truly was a pleasure and a wonderful learning experience. I am providing an audio copy of the debate, as well as some video clips and photos. I highly encourage listening and would appreciate any further commentary-both on the topic and on ways I can improve my debating skills!

In order to check out the content, head to the video debates tab and click on "Live Debate-Social Media and Democracy". I look forward to hearing what you all think. All opinions and commentary are welcome. I would also be happy to have other individuals participate in their own version of this topic on this blog if that is something that might interest them!

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