Is there a certain place I get my news? Where is my public domain for discussing issues presented in the media? Well… As I mentioned in my last blog post on who owns media, I don’t go searching for my news, I stumble across it on social media. Thus, my news comes to me, social media is my ‘Public Sphere’.
The Public Sphere: A media theory imagined by Jurgen Habermas. Is the idea that there is a virtual community, which does not thrive in a fixed space, where you can get the news and debate about your ideas. Now, in an online space, once you comment your opinions on certain news topics there is a 99.9% chance someone in going to comment on your opinions. Keyboard warriors make it very easy to criticize and counter your ideas – though there are people who comment and agree, but sometimes people love to share their negative thoughts to debate over the topic with you.
My public sphere operates like so:
Me: *follows news site and/or trashy gossip magazine*
Trashy gossip magazine: Posts article: Is this star-studded couple on the rocks?!
Me: sarcastically comments: “lol this is dumb and fake news”
Brenda, age 15 from Queensland: replies to my comment: How dare you say that about them! You’re the worst human EvEr. L
And the discussion begins…
But my question is… if I’m mostly receiving my news from my social media accounts, is my public sphere being manipulated? Am I accidently limiting my chance to debate and deliberate on all kinds of topics? The issues that get presented to me aren’t really worldly topics, unless its something drastic like the Christchurch Shooting. Is it my fault that my public sphere is so small and nearly non-existent?
The only time I can say there is semi-meaningful discussions is; if I bring an issue up on twitter and then someone decides to reply to my thread and then we share thoughts and ideas– but then my social sphere is also limited to those who follow me and are able to see the tweet. Today there are more challenges to our conceptualisation of the public sphere then there were when Habermas imagined the theory. Since the 90s, the Web has gained a massive share of the news market. The ‘Sphere’ is even more rapid and connected (Enli, Gunn Bruns, Axel Christensen, Christian Larsson, Anders Olof Skogerbo, Eli, 2015) Twitter has served as a new public sphere for political communication and has either broken or redeemed political candidates in doing so. Being on an even battlefield on social media people can speak freely and tweet at politicians to discuss issues – if the politician decides to respond. (Fuchs, C 2013)
Am I a lesser intellectual for the choices I make when I like a certain news site on Facebook? Is it my responsibility to go out and purposely enhance and expand my ‘public sphere?’
Until next time; THINK and swoon.
- Enli, Gunn Bruns, Axel Christensen, Christian Larsson, Anders Olof Skogerbo, Eli, The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, Taylor and Francis, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/1611816/mod_resource/content/1/Is%20Habermas%20on%20Twitter%3F.pdf
- Fuchs, C 2013, Twitter and Democracy: A New Public Sphere?, Social Media a critical introduction, http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/smchapter8.pdf
- Raffael, http://wpmu.mah.se/nmict152group6/2015/10/11/facebook-as-a-public-sphere-thoughts-on-marko-skorics-lecture/