being nobody

Who was it that said that in a truly oppressed society, people are not silenced, but forced to speak?

“Neoliberalism turns the oppressed worker into a free contractor, an entrepreneur of the self. Today, everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise…the prevailing mode of production is based on lonesome and isolated self-entrepreneurs, who are also estranged from themselves.”

Byung Chul Han, from this essay, published October 2015

“The digital society of control makes intensive use of freedom. It is only possible thanks to voluntary self-illumination and self-exposure. It exploits freedom. The society of control achieves perfection when its inhabitants do not communicate because of external constraint but out of inner need—that is, when the fear of giving up a private and intimate sphere yields to the need to put oneself on display shamelessly.”

Byung Chul Han, preface to The Transparency Society

“First, the push for more users and more channels, services, devices, places, and spaces is imperative for access to an ever-expanding range of behavioral surplus.  Users are the human nature-al resource that provides this free raw material.  Second, the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science for continuous algorithmic improvement constitutes an immensely expensive, sophisticated, and exclusive twenty-first century “means of production.” Third, the new manufacturing process converts behavioral surplus into prediction products designed to predict behavior now and soon. Fourth, these prediction products are sold into a new kind of meta-market that trades exclusively in future behavior.  The better (more predictive) the product, the lower the risks for buyers, and the greater the volume of sales. Surveillance capitalism’s profits derive primarily, if not entirely, from such markets for future behavior…

We are the native peoples now whose tacit claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own behavior. They are erased in an astonishing and audacious act of dispossession by surveillance that claims its right to ignore every boundary in its thirst for knowledge of and influence over the most detailed nuances of our behavior.  For those who wondered about the logical completion of the global processes of commodification, the answer is that they complete themselves in the dispossession of our intimate quotidian reality, now reborn as behavior to be monitored and modified, bought and sold.”

Shoshana Zuboff, from  this essay, published March 2016

When you consciously resist the desire to perform, to self-actualize — to be somebody — on the internet, I think that counts as an act of idealism. It’s pretty radical.

Look out for my next post: Internet Fame is Hell (I Would Imagine). No, not really, ha-ha.

 

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