@hannah_arendt: An Arendtian critique of online social networks

2016-04-11T11:31:10Z (GMT) by Elke Schwarz
New technologies in communications and networking have shaped the way political movements can be mobilised and coordinated in important ways. Recent uprisings have shown dramatically how a people can communicate its cause effectively beyond borders, through online social networking channels and mobile phone technologies. Hannah Arendt, as an eminent scholar of power and politics in the modern era, offers a relevant lens with which to theoretically examine the implications and uses of online social networks and their impact on politics as praxis. This article creates an account of how Arendt might have evaluated virtual social networks in the context of their potency to create power, spaces and possibilities for political action. With an Arendtian lens the article examines whether these virtual means of ‘shared appearances’ facilitate or frustrate efforts in the formation of political power and the creation of new beginnings. Based on a contemporary reading of her writings, the article concludes that Arendt’s own assessment of online social networks, as spheres for political action, would likely have been very critical.