Tag: life (page 1 of 6)

Online personas and liquid modernity

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Drew Austin references Zygmunt Bauman, an author I referenced in my thesis, in relation to personhood and social media. Really interesting.

Austin’s blog, which he seems to have abandoned in favour of a newsletter, discussed his friend recommending the creation of an an ‘alt’ persona “in order to break free of some of the restrictions that an online persona imposes.” I find this interesting in light of my thinking about nuking everything and starting again.

(PS what are we calling Substack newsletter displayed on the internet these days? I think I’ll just call them web pages.)

In his 2000 book Liquid Modernity, Bauman wrote: “Seen from a distance, (other people’s) existence seems to possess a coherence and a unity which they cannot have, in reality, but which seems evident to the spectator. This, of course, is an optical illusion. The distance (that is, the paucity of our knowledge) blurs the details and effaces everything that fits ill into the Gestalt. Illusion or not, we tend to see other people’s lives as works of art. And having seen them this way, we struggle to (make our lives) the same.”

[…]

As Bauman presciently realized, the constraints of these digital environments and the sheer volume of users endows even the flimsiest online presences with an illusion of unity. Showing up frequently enough in the feed might elevate one’s presence to a work of art, at least from everyone else’s distracted perspective, and this in turn motivates us all to present our own selves more artfully. The speed of the information flow is essential to the entire illusion: A platform like Twitter makes our asynchronous posts feel like real-time interaction by delivering them in such rapid succession, and that illusion begets another more powerful one, that we’re all actually present within the feed.

[…]

Something I frequently joke about—a dark truth that begs for humor—is how social media requires continuous posting just to remind everyone else you exist. I once said that if Twitter was real life our bodies would always be slowly shrinking, and tweeting more would be the only way to make ourselves bigger again. We can always opt out of this arrangement, of course, and live happily in meatspace, but that is precisely the point: Offline we exist by default; online we have to post our way into selfhood. Reality, as Philip K. Dick said, is that which doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it, and while the digital and physical worlds may be converging as a hybridized domain of lived experience and outward perception, our own sustained presence as individuals is the quality that distinguishes the two.

Source: #162: Minimum Viable Self | Kneeling Bus

A cure for depression and boredom

I love this response to a letter about feeling bored and depressed. The answer is basically “welcome to the world” and that they’re never going to be happier by getting a better job or a bigger apartment.

That these are sad times and it feels bad to live in them is hardly insightful, but lately I’ve been wondering if it’s not so much the sadness but the sameness. Watching wicked people prosper over and over, having the same conversations about powerful men and the consequences they will never face, witnessing suffering that was easily anticipated and avoided, asking again and again what can be done about it and being told again and again, essentially, “nothing.” For a moment, early on in this present calamity, it felt like perhaps this could be a real rupture, but by now it’s clear our response will be more asking and more answering with “nothing,” more suffering, more pointless conversations, more prospering for a few of the expense of the rest.

Source: How Do I Figure Out What I Want When Every Day Feels the Same? | Jezebel

Rat Race 2.0

An insightful post which considers the ways in which current working generations can’t “quit the rat race” in the way previous generations could (or could aspire to doing). You’re either plugged into the network, or you die.

The internet matching machine is fuelled by content. The more of it you produce, the more likely you are to reach the people who’d value what you have to offer. Writing a tweet or uploading a video costs nothing. It might be embarrassing or a waste of time, but that’s about it. In that sense, the downside of playing the game is indeed limited.

But focusing on the risks within the game obscures a much bigger problem: The game is no longer optional. Everyone must play. We have little to lose because we already lost everything: Stable jobs, affordable homes, education that lasts a lifetime, and worry-free retirement are no longer an option. Even money itself ain’t what it used to be. It loses value by simply sitting in the bank.

This is partly a result of various policy failures. But ultimately, it is due to our current stage of technological development. Information moves around and knowledge becomes obsolete faster than ever. Geographical constraints no longer protect the average from the best.

We are all in one giant global arena. We can win world-scale prizes. But we have to play. And even when we win, the rewards tend to be fleeting: they can sustain us for a while, but at any moment, the algorithms might change, or another clever fellow can whisk our followers-customers away. We are as anxious in victory as we are in defeat, and our winnings can only be used to continue to play.

Source: No Floor, No Ceiling