by Bogdan Pammer
The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations regards
2) Media pluralism and diversity of media content and their contribution to fostering public debate, democracy and awareness of diverse opinions;
as one of the burning topics for our globe and humanity in 2013 and beyond. Leaders from all around the globe including 150 youth leaders will join together in February 2013 in Vienna to discuss and explore this issue.
One interesting aspect of this array of themes is, whether the internet or the digitalization of our communication makes us more active citizens? How will the digital natives or digital citizens transform democracy? Is the digital citizen a global citizen?
All questions very relevant for us as young activist who seek to become global citizens and build a responsible culture of peace, that goes beyond borders. Also the NYT picked up this issue up in its Global Agenda Series.
Serge Schmemann moderates an interesting discussion between media experts, who try to evaluate impact increased digitalization has on our lives and therefore also on politics.
Susan Greenfield expresses her concerns not only about the time spent in from of screens, but also the fundamentally different role new media claims in our lives:
What concerns me is that the current technologies have been converted from being means to being ends. Instead of complementing or supplementing or enriching life in three dimensions, an alternative life in just two dimensions — stimulating only hearing and vision — seems to have become an end in and of itself.
Maria Popova does not share Greenflield’s concerns but talks about a “chronology bias” that is inherent to a lot of social media. The newest information appears as the most relevant.
Evgeny Morozov emphasizes that the internet and the social media we are using and used to today was essentially shaped by “a political economy and various market conditions.” Facebook and co make its users (aka us) like, view and post stuff in order to learn about them and increase its advertising value. Depth and informed decisions are not in their interest per se.
This confronts us with a question: Does social media the illusion of political activism might be created. Are we politically active and citizens contributing substantially to the development of our community and society just by posting items through social media channels?
Harald Katzmair and Harald Mahrer in their book “Die Formel der Macht” (“The Formular of Power”) emphasized the point, that social networks often leave an illusion of power, since those people utilizing social those networks do not necessarily have critical resources necessary to turn their “circles” and “friends” into influence.
It is obvious that an increased amount of time spent in front of screens will not necessarily help people to learn to go beyond the boarders and boxes we live in. Those screens might even tempt us to rather stay in our zone of comfort, than step out of it. Having now the possibility to check my e-mails in the underground I am personally confronted with a different (virtual) reality of communication. (1) This new reality of social media makes it even more obvious that claiming our “Subjectivity” over the media we consume and the thoughts we entertain.
(2) As young people with the fire of our conscience burning about the wrongs in society and desiring to make a difference it is important to reflect on what are our resources for creating an impact. Human Resource managers and Facebook discover our skills and personal data as powerful resources. We have our votes, but the choice between two or three parties we don’t agree with might not satisfy us as citizens, who strive to be active and responsible.
How can we as young people claim our resources and “Subjectivity” in accordance to our conscience? How can this more then just words? What do you think?