Volume 21, Issue 1, 2017
Christopher Ryan Maboloc
Social Transformation and Online Technology
Situating Herbert Marcuse in the Internet Age
The Internet age has seen the influential rise of social media. Consumer culture is tied to this modern phenomenon. This paper begins with an exposition of Herbert Marcuse’s grounding in phenomenology and his subsequent critique of Heidegger’s apolitical Dasein. In explicating Marcuse’s critical theory of technology, this paper will retrace Hegel’s influence on Marcuse in the idea of the dialectic. The dialectic is an integral aspect of social transformation. While modern technology may be value-neutral, it is argued herein that the lack of depth in social media provokes thought and invites critical dissent. Marcuse believes in the capacity of modern tools to effect social reform through adaptation. But emerging pathologies from online technology also have pressing challenges. For instance, social media makes manifest a dominant order that can be manipulative. It can be said that particular interests, notably from business and capitalists, shape the type of consumer culture that online technology promotes. In advancing Marcuse’s relevance in today’s Internet age, the paper will explore how social media as a platform can truly liberate the individual from the ills that consumerism peddles online.