Can we still be masters of our destiny in the era of Uber Eats and Tinder?

“It is a structuring fact of contemporary Western democracies: we are all becoming assisted.” Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

ANALYSE – Never has there been so much question of (re)putting the citizen at the heart of public action. But never have we entrusted our destiny so much to others.

April 10, 2022, 9:30 p.m. On the evening of a first round without tension or suspense, Jean Reno and Christian Clavier appear on the screens of TF1 viewers. The channel cut short election night to broadcast the first part of the Visitors, as yet another sign of the crying disinterest of the French in politics. A few months later, the President of the Republic intends to bring France out of a form of civic secession thanks to his new tool, the National Council for Refoundation (CNR), designed as a space for dialogue between the majority, associations and the oppositions. On September 8, in Marcoussis (Essonne), Emmanuel Macron put it into orbit, insisting on his desire to“inwards”et “look the democratic demand in the face”.

Great national debate, citizens’ convention for the climate, notebooks of grievances, multiple appeals to the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP), and soon Citizens’ Convention for the end of life… Since the “yellow vests” recalled that they too were part of the march of the world, similar initiatives have multiplied, even if it means giving the impression of a France in brainstorming permanent. The radical left, LFI in the lead, shouts the trick and pleads to go further with a form of direct democracy of which the citizens’ initiative referendum (RIC) would be the expression. Within the political class, everyone seems to agree on the idea that citizens should be more involved in public action.

Our era talks all about the short circuit that goes “from producer to consumer” and, at the same time, has accepted the fact of having its hamburger delivered to its doorstep by a precarious courier.

Ronan Planchon

Yes, but here it is. If it has never been so much a question of putting the citizen at the heart of the life of the city, the citizen never ceases to entrust their daily life to others. It is a structuring fact of contemporary Western democracies: we are all becomingassisted“. The judicialization of our society, modeled on the American model, is probably the best proof of this. The increase in the number of referrals to the courts in civil matters reflects this desire to appeal to the judicial institution to resolve conflicts. Dominique Barella, former president of the Union of Judges also sees a “need to secure individuals, which involves a frantic search for those responsible downstream, and the development of the precautionary principle upstream”. Even if it means forgetting the principle of individual responsibility.

Intermediaries are multiplying everywhere. Our era talks all about the short circuit that goes “from producer to consumer and, at the same time, accepted the fact of having his meal delivered to his home by a precarious courier. On the emotional level, we are now ready to let the algorithms choose our life partners. In France, there are 1.7 million active visitors on Tinder, the most downloaded application, or 2.6% of the population. Not to mention other platforms.

Information is no exception: we now listen to editorialists commenting on the news and videographers summarizing it. The success of Youtubeur Hugo Décrypte, 25, at the head of a company with thirteen employees, illustrates this trend among many young people. They haven’t stopped watching the television news (the average age of8 p.m. devoteesis 52 years old for TF1 and 60 years old for France 2) to delve into reading in-depth articles (paper newspapers are seeing their sales erode) but in the hope that someone else do for them. On his various social networks, the videographer posts daily news digests that have made him famous. Finally, let’s mention the success of the live video streaming platform Twitch as the ultimate avatar of the evolution of society. Even the proxy adventure industry has had to impose a new intermediary between the consumer (the gamer) and entertainment (video games). It is the figure of streamer, that we watch play with half-extinguished eyes rather than play ourselves.

We have fallen into an “individualism of unbinding or disengagement where the requirement of authenticity becomes antagonistic to inclusion in a collective”

Marcel Gauchet

The weakening of the state, which goes hand in hand with that of the nation, is probably no stranger to this phenomenon.. His growing inability to fulfill his sovereign functions (ensuring the safety of citizens, offering a health system worthy of the name or a school capable of transmitting fundamental knowledge) while playing nanny during the health crisis pushes the individual to cowering in confined spaces to avoid coming up against a hostile exterior, even turning to other actors, often private, in order to entrust them with the microtasks of life.

As early as 1990, the intellectual Marcel Gauchet described, with accuracy, the disintegration of representative democracy in favor of a “individualism of unbinding or disengagement where the demand for authenticity becomes antagonistic to inclusion in a collective” – further widening the gap between the people and those who represent them. The eruption of Uber Eats, Deliveroo and other Tinders over the past ten years has made us take a new step in this great “link”, accelerating the process of metamorphosis from citizen to user. This ground swell seems to contradict the very possibility of participating in the life of the city. Because when you partly delegate the choice of your spouse to an algorithm, do you still have the energy, and the desire, to become more involved in the democratic process?

Very smart one who can predict with certainty whether we will wake up collectively or not. Will our salvation go through a providential man or a form of direct democracy? One thing is certain, a bike courier will not deliver the solution to our address.

SEE ALSO – “We are in an economy that is becoming uberized”, denounces Marine Le Pen




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