Social media’s democratizing effect is still under interrogation, but I think we can all agree that real gains have been made in how individuals affiliate with other individuals and groups.
Case in point: NYTimes.com features a story (http://tinyurl.com/3u2bsr) about www.hiphoprepublican.com, a blog written by a black Republican who lives in Manhattan. The article discusses the fact that black Republicans often find themselves in a Catch 22 when it comes to group forming. They are subject to ridicule from both the black community and the Republican community. While, in the past, such ridicule constituted a barrier to group forming great enough to discourage public assembly, the Internet and social media have enabled what Shirky would call a “latent group” to become realized.
If nothing else, the breadth of groups that form on the Internet lays bare the complexity and diversity within seemingly monolithic groups. That some blacks have economically conservative values might surprise some, but now that voice of the electorate has the medium and the milieu to articulate its message in the public sphere.