The question might not be new but is surely still very hot.
Does Web 2.0, a more widespread and improved Internet connection and the ability to air personal opinions on blogs, social networks and websites make us automatically more engaged with the reality we live in?
Prof. Henry Jenkins is an authority in the field of participatory culture and the (unfulfilled) promise of Web 2.0
Is our society more democratic because of the availability of these new platforms to debate on and exchange views?
A 2011 study published by the University of California Humanities Research Institute reported that "youth who pursue their interests on the Internet are more likely to be engaged in civic and political issues", a good hope for the future of western societies at large.
Young generations are without any doubt the ones who will reap the benefits and advantages introduced by the Internet Revolution, but what about present days?
Although technical difficulties, such as access to the network, low IT literacy in certain layers of society and specific countries are still elements contributing to the persistence of the digital divide, what worries me is something else.
Does anybody really read what we write on our blogs, Twitter feeds or Facebook posts? Does anybody actually take the time to ponder about the messages we send out into the infinite web of the Internet?
Noise is becoming almost indistinguishable from the signals we want to send and, although most of us are technically enabled to share opinions and participate in debates, in practice the majority of conversations end up in nothing.
Just pick a random Youtube video and check the comments below it: most of the times the conversation drifts into personal insults and meaningless remarks. Or check your Facebook feed to see what your "friends" are talking about. Are we really more engaged in the world around us or only in the world within us?
I think the answer to the good old question "do new media make our culture more participatory" would be yes, if only we had already embraced the cultural shift in our offline life required to listen well before sharing our views and be prepared to oppose rational arguments to ongoing debates.
So, in my opinion, the participatory promise of Web 2.0 is yet to be fulfilled and it will require a lot of work on the way we interact with each other and the life world around us first.
What is your experience about it? Would love to hear from you community fellows!
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