In a recent Noema interview, Byung-Chul Han further noted how the structure of peer-to-peer social media is deleterious to democracy. “Information is spread without forming a public sphere,” he says. “It is produced in private spaces and distributed to private spaces. The web does not create a public” but only intensifies “communication without community.”
Without a public sphere in which institutions and practices establish and preserve the credibility of information, there is no solid ground for democratic discourse. Instead, as the philosopher of consciousness Daniel Dennett has observed, we will see — and indeed are seeing — “an arms race of ploy and counterploy” in which the whole notion of objectivity is a casualty of the battle of truths. A governing consensus is then beyond reach. Democracy can’t function.