By Laetitia Sengseis in response to Does the Internet make us Global Citizens?
Democracy in the media is a rather hot topic, not only when it is restricted through government, but also when citizens share their radical ideas. As discussed in the short article the first question concerns whether citizens can participate more actively in the democratic process throught the new means of communication or whether they rest in their comfort zones, recreating a world of boundaries and boxes online. As mentioned, especially young people want to make a difference in this world, taking part in shaping society and wanting to be heard. However, there’s a lack of consensus on what the wrongs of our societies today are. Some think that poverty, unequal distribution, racism and so on should be fought against, others see migration, Islamization and rising demands of refugees as the evil in our daily lives. It is shocking to see how those opinions can spread so quickly and have influence on others. Some of them like the English Defence League use the streets as their tool of communication, peacefully protesting against “militant” Islam. Others, like the Bloc Idenitaire, a french nationalist group whose ideas are spreading more and more around other countries in Europe, use the tool of youtube to communicate their objection against Islam. Media can be used in one way or the other, there’s no restriction on what ideas can be spread within the online community. Even though ORF’s “Bildungsauftrag” is sometimes inexistent, at least awareness is there that media should have one. Democracy is an invaluable means, but it works only if citizens learn how to make use of it in a way that it contributes to the wellbeing of the greater community. Let’s not forget, media is a tool, not the end. What happens online is a representation of what goes on in our society. It is difficult to spread good ideas already, but it happens. TED Talks is a great example, inspiration by great minds. However, with the new media, people select much more what ideas they want to expose themselves to. It is therefore rather unlikely to reach people with extremist ideas through media in order to educate them in reflecting their ideologies. Democracy allows freedom of expression, but with freedoms always comes responsibility.