the cathartic public sphere

Respond to this quote from last week’s reading: “It seems most likely that the virtual public sphere brought about by [computer–mediated communication] will serve a cathartic role, allowing the public to feel involved rather than to advance actual participation.”

With the exception of a select few places, some of whose potentials to serve as a public sphere I have already explained in class, I agree with this assessment of Boeder’s prognosis of the future of the public sphere. With a few large corporations dominating web traffic and thereby controlling and curating what people see, corporate interest can dictate the public sphere in most places online. The posts that are not highlighted as alligned with the companies’ interests will continue to get lost in the noise of the internet, buried pages deep in search results or many scrolls down in news feeds. While companies cannot censor speech online, they can effectively silence it or “turn the volume up” on other speech, and drown out views that the consumer/company doesn’t agree with and to say otherwise is to contradicts the political economy of the web.

User experience online will continue to be personalized, polarized, and curated, sometimes out of personal preference and sometimes out of corporate interest, and it will become increasingly vital for consumers to be mindful of who will or won’t be seeing their content as we continue to voice our opinions online.