The theory of a public sphere claims that it is an informative source for current issues. It’s where we as individuals discover the social, cultural and political happenings of the time and works as a platform for us to engage with others about those issues.
For this post, let’s look at how my favourite social media platform Youtube works as a public sphere.
How it works
Youtube operates as a platform where individuals upload their own video content to their own channels. These channels are able to be watched by anyone with internet access and people are able to leave comments on videos, enabling them to interact with the creator and other audience members. As a public sphere; The video content works as the information on current issues, and the comment section is where people engage with these issues.
As there is such a wide variety of video content on Youtube, not all videos are made to be informative on current issues. However, many in some way or another will be. For example, BuzzFeed videos create content about specific current issues. Whereas for Clare Siobhan- a gaming Youtuber current issues will be brought up in her sims series as the characters replicate a modern life and struggle with these issues themselves.
The Problem And Beauty Of Youtube
The problem with Youtube is access. Internet access is vital to participate in Youtube- leaving many excluded from participating in this public sphere. However, for those with internet access, the beauty of Youtube is the ease of access. Youtube is a fairly inexpensive and simplistic way to create and broadcast video content. This allows for more diversity than ever before in media, which also gives way for a larger amount of issues and opinions to be heard.
What role does ‘the media’ play in it at all?
With Youtube, the company itself is the ultimate media source with control over all of the individual channels who are micro media sources. In regards to censorship, Youtube has specific guidelines of what can and can’t be uploaded and has the ability to demonetize and take down individual videos.
Although in my opinion, Youtube has a lot more variety as a public sphere then major media institutes do. This is because Youtube has no control or influence over any of the content produced by channels, it only has the ability to regulate it once it’s already uploaded, and usually only will if there has been an uproar of controversy about a video. Furthermore, it is a global public sphere with producers who have many different upbringings and ideologies in life. Youtube is a diverse public sphere.
I like that.