Forget Planet Earth, We Now Live in the Virtual Sphere

Today, the world revolves around the Internet. A giant online source of everything in which people can get facts, opinions, and everything in between from all over the world. The internet also fuels major discussion between people everywhere about various topics such as politics, sports, entertainment, etc. In his article “The Virtual Sphere: The Internet as a Public Sphere”, Zizi Papacharissi discusses the fact that we as a society are in a public space that could be revived as a virtual public sphere, which he argues is a private space aswell. Also, in his article “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article”, Jurgen Habermas discusses the Public Sphere defining that in this sphere, the public expresses their freedom of speech and assembly and comes together to talk about matters of general interest. Both articles mention this “public sphere” and defend but also question it’s role.

In Papacharissi’s article he focuses on the definition and history of the public sphere exemplifying its prominence in our society through its growing political activity. This is the first article I have ever read on a so called “public sphere”. I had never thought to think of the internet in all its glory, and think about all the people who have access to make judgements and comments on topics around the world. The part in Papacharissi’s article that really intrigued me was the debate on “public space vs. sphere” and the future of the sphere. Papacharissi discusses that “As public space, the internet provides yet another forum for political deliberation” (Papacharissi 11). This make the space and sphere two different areas “public” referring to the space in which all people can access it. Arguing with the sphere, not all people have access to the internet around the world which brings the question “is there really a public sphere?” into discussion. In reality Papacharissi says, “a public realm or government” that could pay “attention to all [of society’s] diverse voices has never existed” (Papacharissi 11). This really intrigued me when I think about how many different voices there are out there that try to be heard out on the internet, and never do. What is so fascinating to me about the “public sphere” is that it brings attention to the many people we have in our society that use their freedom of speech and wifi to express opinions and answers to life questions. When the author talks about the future, and if the sphere will grow, it is interesting when Papacharissi brings up that the time we live in is when “the public is demonstrating dormant political activity and developing growing cynicism towards politics” (Papacharissi 10). This is fueled through the growth of discussion of the many people that have access to the sphere.

In comparison, Jurgen Habermas’ article reflects on the history of the so-called “public sphere” saying that it “yielded to that new sphere of ‘public authority’ which came into being with national and territorial states” (Habermas 51) back in high European society in which “public” was a growing term beginning to be used. While reading this article, I noticed a comparison to Papacharissi’s article in which Habermas noted how in this public sphere, “access is guaranteed to all citizens” (Habermas 50), and this is because of the use of the word “public”. But Habermas later refutes noting that everyone needs to have access for representative space.  The internet does have the capacity to connect people everywhere around the world, it is just the people who must decide whether they want to join and be connected. This article also made me think more of the internet as a whole, and how it is growing with the amount of users with growing topics around the world. This especially involves government and political involvement, who use areas of commercialization to grab those in the public sphere, as well as people who give their opinions on policies and bills behind a computer screen. I am still in awe of the technology we have today that enables great discussion between people. Calling it a public sphere or not, many people do have access in our society and the virtual sphere is growing and grabbing more and more users.

Works Cited

Habermas, Jurgen. “The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article”. New German Critque, No. 3, pp.49-55, Accessed 17 February 2017.

Papacharissi, Zizi. “The Virtual Sphere: The Internet as a Public Sphere”. New Media Society, 2002, Accessed 18 February 2017.



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