Another attractive dimension of such participatory culture is that it provides a new way of getting involved in civic issues. As Hannah Arendt once said - the “booth in which we deposit our ballots is unquestionably too small, for this booth has room only for one.” Indeed, sometimes we don’t just want to like or dislike an idea, or even to comment on it. We want to co-create it. And participation, when it is real, can bring us those few crucial steps beyond the discursive, mental space, and into action. Some of the best insights and outcomes come from actually fabricating an object, reclaiming a space, or organizing a public event. Direct action is a form of democratic participation that has been largely suppressed even in the most democratic countries. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s democratic ideal wasn’t just about people’s right to express preferences, but about their capacity to fulfil them directly.
Imagine a real world in which the value of everything was also driven by the number of votes or likes it gets. The way it happens in social networks. More votes mean your post gets higher up on the page, and then gets more views and increased circulation. This mechanism is nothing new. It is what John Stuart Mill called the “tyranny of the majority”. He warned for instance, that a religious majority could oppress a minority. Democracies have established constitutional safeguards such as decentralisation, constitutional limits or the separation of powers.