Squidward’s Public Sphere

Jรผrgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation Of The Public Sphere (1962) defines the “Public Sphere” initially as “conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public”. This can be simplified as a metaphorical “bubble” which people enter into to when wanting to debate topics.

Another source describes it as the “social space in which different opinions are expressed, problems of general concern are discussed, and collective solutions are developed communicatively” (Wessier, Fruedenthaler 2018). It is the place people go to discuss the news, issues and topics that grab their attention or cause concerns.

The Outside World is a big scary place.

Each individual has their own separate bubble of people they go to to discuss topics with, which for myself is with my various groups of friends (weird flex, but ok) as well as the Reddit communities of Subreddits.

For example, I have different groups of people I go to for different topics, such as surfing, tennis, basketball or regular news. These spheres often communicate via various group chats over Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger and in-person.

Some members are active in multiple groups, and often multiple conversations occur at the same time. Major topics of conversations include memes, films, tv shows, controversial news and ethical scenarios.

The media plays a large role in this process, as social media allows for interaction to occur within these spheres, by providing the topics of conversation, as well as the means to communicate anywhere you are, and to comment your thoughts on various posts.

With the amount of topics to discuss, I believe it is nearly impossible to belong to only one Public Sphere, as where one group may not find a certain topic interesting or worthy of discussion, another group may, which is where each person will go to find another group willing to discuss that particular topic.

For example, in the show Spongebob Squarepants, the character Squidward Tentacles (pictured above) prefers to talk to the title character, Spongebob, about working at the Krusty Krab and keeps his private life as private as possible. Whereas, in the episode House Fancy, talks to Nicholas Withers, a fellow house decorating enthusiast about his house, despite the disastrous occurences that take place during the episode.

The Communist Dream

Since its creation in 2005, Reddit has grown into the 5th most visited site with more than 330 Million active users per month. Reddit is organised into “Subreddits” – communities based upon a certain topic, such as the massively populated r/news, r/movies, and r/memes to smaller, more niche topics such as the tv show r/Brooklyn Nine-Nine (one of my personal faves).

Reddit has a Subreddit for almost everything, and if it doesn’t exist, Users (known as “Redditors”) are able to create and regulate their own Subreddit (now known as “Mods” for that Subreddit). Due to this ability to create instantly, Reddit is constantly updated about current events, especially in r/news, which specialises in, you guessed it, the news.

Reddit was created by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian who use the website frequently, often involving themselves in discussion or posting updates about the app and website. The pair both moderate a select few Subreddits, however, thousands more subreddits exist which they are not mods of, therefore, it is up to the mods of each individual Subreddit to govern themselves. In 2006, the site was acquired by Condรฉ Nast Publications who have owned it ever since, however, they do not regulate each individual Subreddit, which is up to the Mods.

Due to the lack of constant regulation, the r/news Subreddit can often be filled with unreliable sources, therefore, when using this Subreddit, it is best to not believe everything unless the source is trustworthy and the information is verified by multiple sources.

Apart from r/news, the Reddit app has a News section which accesses articles from each Subreddit, providing a current update for users who don’t want to browse one particular Subreddit, but rather access all news.

Though there is no singular governing body on the site, I do not believe this matters too much, as the Mods of each Subreddit are usually fairly successful at removing fake and untrue content, ensuring the news remains useful and relevant for Redditors. When using Reddit, I prefer to remain on the homepage or browse the hot and top posts of a Subreddit, as more people viewing a post means that more Redditors are able to verify and provide their own thoughts, therefore ensuring the post remains truthful and useful for Users.

For a different perspective on Reddit check out For The People, By The People.

Represent this…

The Media, especially the Internet of Things is an extremely diverse and complex system, and what is represented to us through a medium must then be interpreted using our understandings of events, effects and experiences. The Audience plays a large part in the interpreting of a message, and rather than playing a passive role where they believe everything that is communicated to them, they instead form their own opinions and weigh up what they’ve just viewed and make their own decisions, acting as an active entity.

As media is open to interpretation, there can be no right answer, and complex imagery can often provoke many different thoughts.

The biggest wave ever surfed (78ft/23.8m) was at Nazarรฉ, Portugal by Garrett McNamara

The image above depicts Carlos Burle, a Spanish Big Wave Surfer, who has spent his life training himself to become an expert at big wave surfing, in the hopes of attempting to surf the break at Nazarรฉ, Portugal, which boasts some of the biggest waves in the world.

This picture depicts him as he drops onto a wave, as onlookers watch in awe from the lighthouse platform. the bright red lighthouse at the centre of the image and the people next to it help put the gigantic wave in the background into perspective as to how tremendous and powerful this wave truly is. This picture demonstrates how breathtaking nature truly can be by contrasting the seemingly tiny lighthouse against the massive wave and its rider .

This image can be examined from several perspectives, each with their own beliefs regarding this image, ranging from fear of what this image delivers, or amazement and a longing for more. This image leaves me with a need to know more, and the desire to pursue my current hobby of surfing, filling me with a feeling of motivation to continue on and be like Carlos Burle.

However, this image can also have a harmful effect by invoking a fear that reminds the Audience that surfing and the ocean are extremely dangerous, especially at this size. To know that the ocean can be this tremendous can also inspire people to remain as far away from the beach as possible.

Media Audiences

In 2011, Dad and I travelled to the Royal Sydney Golf Club for one of the most exhilarating events of my life so far. There, we watched World Famous tennis players Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Stanislas Wawrinka go head to head in the 2011 Australia v Switzerland Davis Cup Qualifiers.

Two of my favourite players of all time, post-match in 2011

The matches lasted around 4 hours, and I remember cheering after every point, I was so excited that I finally got to watch two of my favourite players play live for the first time. the only negative of the day was the large crowd which threatened to swallow up little 10-year old me, their loud cheering drowning out all other sound.

From this experience, I witnessed just how influential and powerful an audience can truly be, as fans roared and cheered, jumping up at every opportunity. One highlight was seeing 10-ish men jump up and rip their shirts off, revealing their painted chests, which spelt out something along the lines of “Go Lleyton!”, obviously very excited to see the Australian star play live. The crowd were forced to quieten down by the umpire during the match on multiple occasions, their wild screaming drowning out everything else. Secondly, I also saw how much these athletes meant to this audience, and how despite not knowing them personally, they still influenced and were a large part of the audience’s life. These people stampeded in, the crowd forcing their way through the gates, then, on breaks, forced their way back out towards the multiple food stalls stationed around the stadium, queuing for what felt like hours in the hopes of getting food and drinks before the matches resumed play. Despite the matches lasting close to four hours, the audience never lost its energy.

The day consisted of 2 matches, with 8 sets played in total, and, by the end of the tournament, Australia had lost 2-3 to Switzerland. Once the day was over, the audience charged back out of the gates, eagerly awaiting the next day, when the matches would resume. Dad and I only watched the one day, and by the end of it we were exhausted, so much so that I slept during the whole drive back. The match was a loss but the crowd continued to cheer during every point despite their feelings of defeat.