By Li Ming Chew
I would like to start out writing by mentioning that I was very much impressed by the last article on “Infodemic” issue. It felt as if I was joining the discussion as I read, with each topic supported by sources and additional relevant information attached. Especially since we cannot have physical mobility due to the pandemic, it was both amusing to see how people have been coping with this in different regions was and also a great opportunity to learn. In short, I really enjoyed this informative and inspiring article.
Social Media and “Bottom-up” Totalitarianism
Having previously studied the interrelations between Social Media and Democracy during my undergraduate, it was particularly interesting that the article invites readers to participate in the discussion, concentrate and think, unlike most instant information circulating rapidly on social media. While social media enables us to consume mass information in a short period, it seems to cause detrimental effect, which is to discourage contemplation.
The precondition of Democracy expects individuals to be a rational agency with a skill to contemplate when in public debates. Contemplation is only possible when there is a firm basis of data and facts on which people can further debate. However, with the cometic advent of Social Media and its characteristic functions such as filter-bubble and personalization, the number of Likes tends to be regarded synonymous with the righteous. Some say that this passive and uncritical behavior toward those “Liked” opinions without questioning its ground would potentially lead to a “Bottom-up” Totalitarianism. Abandoning contemplation and burying ourselves into the “Likes” and “Buzzes” are nothing but recession of Democracy.
Re-cultivate The Abilities For Contemplation
There is an emerging movement of what’s called a “Slow-internet” in Japan as opposed to endlessly accelerating to pursue faster speed both in consuming information. In this, the proposition is how to let audience digest and critically think of an information, by providing with articulated and elaborative works. While it can be seen retrograding for the evolution, but given the fundamental attraction of the internet being borderless and flat, this movement could be an initiative to halt the current situation where the internet is paradoxically generating divisions among people.
Recession or Optimization?
How to think about the current moves of Social Media and accompanying issues remains an open question for each of us. Living in the age of connectivity, whether or not the Internet will function to let us contemplate and debate, or to silently choke Liberal Democracy that we enjoy today, is totally in our hands. I would like to devote my life to make our future to be the former.
Li Ming Chew:
Liming was born in the United States, and raised mostly in Japan. During his year at LL.M. program in Kyushu University, he explores the extensibility of Public Forum doctrine into digital forum in the course of pursuing “how next generation of Freedom of Speech looks like”. Besides academic career, he is currently doing an internship at the Babels, inc. and operates an online discussion platform “Talkstand”.