the screen generation

“In twenty-first century, whoever controls the screen controls consciousness, information and thought. The screen is a mirror of your mind, get it? If you are passively watching screens, you are getting programed. If you are editing you own screen, you are in control of you mind. George Orwell had it wrong. He was too optimistic. He wrote in 1984 that Big Brother would watch us from screens on the walls of our living rooms or bedrooms. But that is nothing. You could always duck out of sight. The current horror is that Americans voluntarily stick their amoeboid faces toward the screen six or seven hours a day and suck up information that Big Brother is putting there. Here is the key to our future: We can and will control our own screens. We are designing software that will empower you to produce and direct your own mind movies, your own prime-time shows.” Timothy Leary – 1987 Rolling Stone Magazine

Timothy Leary and George Orwell got it wrong, your own screen is your means of production in the market competition. The diffuse spectacle gets produced in an integrated mode (Debord). Work expands into free time (Adorno). A podcast economically is not a primetime show, because it’s tendency is superflous, hobby work. States will soon have to provide a basic income for the superflous people out of work, resulting in the eternalization of the poverty of the precarious proletariate. This is the real meaning of Big Brother, not a policy-maker, but state as a father figure that cares for you. You don’t get fed with information, you get fed with the self-reflection of today’s citizenship, with the ideology of the republic, with the consciousness of the free market. The tendency of this ideology being produced as media products by all, does not automatically question the hegemony of power. By reformulating the analysis of state and power to seemingly concrete entities little “Big Brother” in the sense of central authorities that need to be attacked, the perspective of using the means of production for subverting the mode of production got hurt. In the field of ideology it’s not the people against The Man today, it’s the people against themselves, the praxis of future politics will have to evolve from a process of critique. Participation is an empty phrase, as long as markets and thus the dogma of profitability are used to regulate it.

some thoughts 4 years after this text

since fancypunk told me how well received our blog is in greece at the moment i thought i will share more text again here.


8 thoughts on “the screen generation

  1. and someone of facebook wrote: “So, it really is like a hyper-sigil. We create a digital copy of ourselves through the media we post and consume. The work is then to take responsibility for both of them and to reconcile or balance the digital and physical versions of ourselves? Am I understanding the intention of this article correctly?”

    you may like to answer to this comment


  2. well the quoted points of Timothy Leary surely go in the direction you describe, to become somehow media competent or media aware. my criticism below that post is then, that this is an abstraction from what we do exactly with the machine. that the users do superflous work (in what is supposedly free time), like a little chaotic production, while at the same time of course some of this work is also generating income. e.g. solving captchas on social media plattforms, the results of which are used in digital book transcription (which means you work for free). or just being on a social media plattform and by doing customer performance becoming a worker in a system of advertisement. or working as a non-paid artist in a city, which has an image as a creative place, and therefore doing free image-building for the creative industry site.
    but these are only examples, that is why i did this name-dropping of Theodor W. Adorno and Guy Debord to point out where this is coming from, this analysis of a general tendency of our economic culture, or as one could as well say, the economisation of culture.

    my proposal would be to go back to the metaphor of Big Brother and re-evaluate it: to see that we are in a dynamic system of self control and mutual control. and that the situation of control and also working conditions are becoming diffuse, which makes for new problems for the progressive project of new living conditions beyond social models of control and command. and finally that Big Brother is not acting as an oppressor today, but as a father figure, which is maybe even more problematic for the perspective of a social transformation beyond the status quo.

  3. Hello, dr0fn0thing.

    I’m the one that posted the comment fancypunk was kind enough to re-post. My response might be (if I’m continuing to understand you correctly): What about those of us that don’t constrain ourselves with the concepts of “free” time or having to confine ourselves to using the Internet as a modality of communication that is, necessarily, exploited for an income?

    I use the Internet for a variety of purposes; meeting friends, sharing ideas, tossing memes into the digital pool and watching the ripples spread out.

    I’ve been thinking how closely the current notion of “hivemind” mirrors McLuhan’s “global village” –self-control, mutual control? He makes the assertion that inter-connectivity leads to a tribalization of relationships and today, I think I might tend to agree with him and believe that our current state of affairs more closely resembles the mob rule of Greece’s primitive democracy than Orwell’s dystopia.

  4. I tend to agree that it is the systematic of a mob that controls itself. although, and this is where i differ from your introduction, i tend to find a lot of economic conditions that stretch also to the social activity you mention (this is what i wrote about in the blog post).

    your description of social activity and how you relax and do forms of philosophy as a hobby, can be understood as a counterweight to financially rewarding activity (formal: as recovery time). so if you don’t accept concepts of “free” time, how would you define those non-exploitable activities then?

    but i also agree to understand it as a chaotic share-web, and i have written a text about it some time ago (“cyberpunk is dead”). many people found it to be overwritten and hard to understand (the comments showed that the right ideas came across and were reinterpreted completely as intented), but wrote nice feedback that resembled a lot what i was trying to say, which resulted in this remix:

  5. Pingback: 4 years of shituationism. the annual birthday speech by dr0fn0thing. « the shituationist institute

  6. Pingback: the screen generation, part 3 | the shituationist institute

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