“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard
It’s still worth realizing that the ‘postmodern mind’ developed in-between two technocapitalist regimes: analogue and digital. From the Frankfurt school onward we gained an apprehension of the analogue culture industry of consumerist capitalism. After the early to mid-90’s the browser wars and the interface to DARPAs networks would be commodified, and the emergence of the digital worldview of the simulated worlds of utopian desire would arise only to be slammed into commercial lockdown at the turn of the century.
Those born after the mid-80’s would emerge from the atomized passivity of TV culture and slowly formulate a global mindset. Yet, the small gap of freedom and creativity gained in desktop computing would give way once again to the passive app worlds of mobile phone culture. Once again people are given the illusion of creativity and freedom, but are guided and controlled with a passive array of mobile apps that offer little or no ability to change, modify, or create; rather one is bound by the coded algorithms of a marketed cash cow that captures your live in avatar data packs feeding it to the very corporate entities that then sell it back to you as entertainment or distraction.
Hardly anyone remembers the analogue world anymore. An unconnected world atomized, distant, and without interactive media. Having lived in both worlds I realize how much more empowered our digital lives are with access to so much more information, and yet like any technological break the old pharmakon of cure and poison inhabit the silent control vectors of this new world in ways we’re only beginning to understand. Our minds shaped by the very algorithms that once offered so much utopian dreams have and or becoming our world’s authoritarian realm of total control and tyranny.
I sometimes think if I pulled the plug, disconnected myself from this digital universe of simulated dreams and nightmares whether the solitude of existence without this system of distraction and capture could be sustained. Almost every aspect of my life is online, connected to shopping venues, social and entertainment venues, virtual friends, legal advice, health and government and banking… everything at my fingertips. Living as I do so far away from major cities I’d be hard put to return to a disconnected life since analogue is obsolesced we are now victims of our own success. Bound to the digital whether we will or not.
I watch those shows of homesteaders in Alaska realizing very few people could ever return to a subsistence world of absolute survival, a life that entails that one organize every minute of one’s existence around food, shelter, and hunting-gathering. Of course if some great cataclysm of war, famine, natural or man-made disaster forced us back into such a life due to a total collapse of economy and networks we’d be back at that stage of human degradation of forced survival protecting our family and loved ones from those who would kill or take without a second thought what is ours. A dog eat dog world.
I’m an old man. I think about such things. Most people are so distracted by their daily lives of struggle such things matter not. I understand that.