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The Public Sphere > The Private Cube

When trying to figure out where my public sphere is and where I discuss and converse about all the affairs throughout the world I really didn’t have to think too far out the box before deciding … Snapchat is where it’s at.

Snapchat is the place where I can take stupid videos, add a stupid caption and get stupid replies from intelligent people about the stupid thing I just put on my story. Yet it also is home to my favourite groupchat known as the “Poisonberry Boysenberry Boys” where a small group of friends discuss all things from the Corona Virus and new legislation to ‘Okay dude, who would win in a fight, a paperclip armed with a thumbtack or a needle armed with a toothpick’ (yes, we actually debated that for a solid 10-minutes)

The sphere itself is one that unlike many others operates 24/7. Conversations occur throughout the day and can stop and start at any given moment due to the fact that all members within the sphere have different schedules and timetables. Accompanying the various schedules is the different opinions which is what ultimately keeps the sphere rolling (see what I did there 😉 ) and interesting, the chemistry of the group means that despite people getting passionate on certain topics we can always look back on it and enjoy the discussion itself and have a goof about it.

(above) A coffee house in Palestine (public domain) & People on their phones (via iStock)

In preparation for this post I observed and took note on a Google Doc of all the topics that came up in 5 hours:

  • 10am: Jordan just got home from receiving a haircut and starts the day off by complaining that the 30-minute limit ruined his hair because the barber was ‘rushing his fade’.
  • 11:30am: Ethan is angry because rapper Playboi Carti is teasing the release of a new song and Ethan has a feeling it’ll never see the light of day.
  • 12pm: This conversation has now turned into all the boys debating about which male artist has the best hair, a conversation that quickly turned volatile with Jordan saying, “you don’t know *explicit* about hair dude, shut the *expletive* up”.
  • 2pm: Amidst the news story of the cruise ship being docked in Port Kembla due to Corona Virus, Alex sends a Sydney Morning Herald news article to the chat asking what we think the future holds for the cruise ship industry. This leads to a civilised conversation.
  • 3:30 pm: The group is all in agreement that 80% of all Tik Toks are really stupid and unfunny.
  • 4pm: I post a picture a meme that is pictured below and get left on read by everyone.
(above) a really thought provoking internet interaction

In 2002, George Elery wrote a commentary piece analyzing the public sphere where he stated, “Today newspapers and magazines, radio & TV are the media of the public sphere”. If anything, my view on public spheres from 8 years later proves how dynamic the media that influences a public sphere truly is. The main media’s that influence my public sphere and are the motor in the machine is social media.

Above all these other forms of media that Elery mentions, my public sphere would not exist without the wonders of social media. There would be no groupchat to converse on, no readily available news in my feeds, heck, there wouldn’t even be any Tik Toks for me to brutally critique. With studies coming out from Digital 2020 and Hootsuite stating that 4.5 billion people are on the internet and 3.8 are social media users I can’t be the only one who has been a part of this change or agrees with this notion.

References

  1. Calhoun, C., 2011. Habermas And The Public Sphere. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, pp.289-290.
  2. Kemp, S., 2020. Digital 2020: 3.8 Billion People Use Social Media – We Are Social. [online] We Are Social. Available at: <https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/01/digital-2020-3-8-billion-people-use-social-media&gt; [Accessed 18 April 2020].

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