The traditional idea of the public sphere is where public opinion is formed and assessable for every individual in the society, the foundation ideology of public sphere is a place where citizens are able to connect with the state, our political idea can be passed on to the government. In the reading, Jurgen Habermas suggested “public information is fought for against arcane policies of monarchies, which enlarge the power of democratic control in state activities”. Technology definitely assists people to commit to a public sphere without the boundaries of time and space, it boosts up the participation for political activities from citizens. In 1997, Jones suggested that cyberspace is been promoted “as a new public sphere”, a platform where another form of participation and stimulate discussion are provided, it encourages the freedom of speeches and democracy in the society. This is also reflected in the idea on the Internet of Papacharissi, who believed in “increasing political participation and pave the way for a democratic utopia”. This can be seen in the increasing number of political Facebook page, online activism or social media campaigns.
However, there is still criticism on the idea of using social media as a public sphere. For instance, even if the internet expands the participation from a variety of social groups, we are still in a society where public does not matter, bureaucracy and capitalism are still existing within the social system. Like Carey (1995) argues that “privatising forces of capitalism are turned public sphere into large commercial market”, it is true that social media as a public sphere is more beneficial to the cooperation or individual economically, rather than to politics or the daily life. Or as in some of the countries where cyberspace is still controlled by the government, their opinions cannot be express freely on the Internet, this obviously is against the ideology of public sphere.
I am neutral when it comes to public sphere, on the one hand, I think it is achievable when it comes to a small group of people where our thought can be expressed and exchanged freely among participants, for instance in lecture groups or conventions, but when it comes to large scale events e.g. Social media, it is unrealistic in my opinion. Firstly, in several countries, social media is still under the government surveillance, our comments and opinions are possibly filtered when it has the possibility to threaten the interest of the state. Secondly social media is not standard-free, users often need the skill and financial support to use social media, also most of social media request users to agree on a list of conditions, in order to sign up, therefore it disobey the free boundaries of public sphere, and often the working-class and minority groups are misrepresented in the social media, because the people who hold power and fame often get more attention from the public, compared to the voice of an ordinary citizen.
Although there are criticisms and drawbacks of social media as a public sphere, but I think it is the closest place where we can achieve freedom of expression and enlarge our voice in a global scale.