16-Nov-2019 12:07:31 PM

doing another saturday day writing, feeling a little different now that I’ve decided to keep this is a public repo on github. On the one hand I like the idea of keeping my public internet life quite open and transparent but I’m worried that the knowledge that this is public will affect what I write somewhat. I suppose the best way to go about it is just to write completely uninhibited and then when i push it to github check and see if there’s anything I want to edit out for personal reasons (although i know that by having this be public in any sense I’m already subjecting myself to a change in behavior because I know it will be public)

Anyway after reading last week’s writing I’ve been thinking more about the idea of text and communication and whatnot. Also about this idea of digiphrenia. Digiphrenia is a term coined by Douglas Rushkoff and it refers to the sort of distance between physical and digital interaction we experience in the current age of technology. It’s the discordance we feel when a huge part of our life takes place through proxy interaction with technology as opposed to physical “real life” interaction. This can be a tricky subject because we are peering over the ledge of nagging about “being on that computer all the time” or playing too many video games. In the current noire we are endlessly bombarded by ankle deep critical works and writings that demonstrate why social media, mobile games, etc., are bad for us, and why we should stop using them.

However, as in the field of linguistics, I’m not sure that prescriptivism is particularly useful. Perhaps It would be interesting to spend time simply observing how we interact with technology rather than decisively saying what should be done here and now about its effects.

There is a commonly practiced excercise in mindfulness meditation (encountered by myself in a western context but which I believe originated in Buddhist practice) about the connection between physical and mental discomfort. In the excercise you are prompted (after several weeks of learning overall basic meditation practices) to think of something in your life that’s difficult at the moment. Then you are are prompted to observe your actual physical sensations and to focus as much as possible on an area of physical discomfort. There is no third step where you try to ease the discomfort or make it go away, on the contrary the excercise is about staring it in the face and trying to understand what it is.

When reading about this excercise for the first time I was rather skeptical (as you may be as well). From my perspective the entire thing felt rather cliche and it made me feel a little embarrased that maybe I was falling into this hippie spiritualist stereotype that I was slowly building for myself at the time. But when I observed, I saw for the very first time how I physically reacted (tensing up in a specific way) to a stressful though. And it was the treatment of this reaction that was really eye opening. The excercise was not about deciding to do something, or taking action, but simply about seeing what was there, not even necesarily treating it as an enemy, but simply an entity.

What the exercise never explicity mentions is that the observation itself is the method for healing. And based on these ideas I feel that the cure for digiphrenia lies with the observation of our behavior rather than finger wagging.

We spend a lot of important energy marvelling at, and analyzing the distopian technological commentary of media like “Black Mirror” while ignoring the channels through which we consume it. To me the conversation about streaming services is much more pertinent to our current Digiphrenia than future speculation is. The 2010s paradigm shift from individual media sales to on demand platforms like Spotify and Netflix has massively affected our perception of choice and the rhythm and pacing of our personal media consumption cycles. These sorts of conversations are much more blurry and multi faceted than proclaiming something “bad” or “good”, as most of us can see the positive, negative, and nuetral effects of these shifts firsthand.

And maybe the example of streaming services is even already being talked about a bit some people in the public, but we are surrounded by technology that is ubiquitous but almost never considered when taking a wholistic view of our current relationship with tehnological abstraction. Things like FaceTime slip entirely under the radar of discussion but bring up a multitude of questions about how we engage our interpersonal relationships through technology.

//semi related ideas for an essay about American left wing infotainment and the issues with it’s construction and format

As left wing people, liberals, or democrats, we often see ourselves as Invulnerable to dishonest, fake, or overly biased media sources. At the same time we tend to get a lot of our information and exposure to political issues from “infotainment” sources that create a cocktail of humor and facts about political or social or social issues. As I myself continue to consume this definitively 21st century media format, I’ve begun to see the underlying curiosities in how this type of media needs to be structured to be succesful, and the ways in which it fails to provide us with what we need to be politically well informed independant individuals. So I’d like to examine some ways in which these shows operate, and why the notion of combining politics with comedy on TV is overwhelmingly a liberal phenomenon.

// adam ruins everything // last week tonight // seth myers/colbert // vox

The format and pacing of comedy and political information is at odds on a genetic level. This is of course one of the reasons why we love infotainment. It’s a way for us to feel good about keeping up to date without having to slog through dry traditional political media. But framing political discussions within comedy is dangerous. Anectodally, when I’m consuming comedy I think my brain sort of prepares itself for such. We sit down and see John Oliver’s face, and we put our selves in humor mode. We are ready to participate in the over the top hilarity of his enthusiastic punchlines, and the part of our brain that’s ready to critically evaluate what we are consuming quiets down a little. And it does so because in order to enjoy the jokes, in order to laugh, we must agree with what he is saying. To laugh at Trump being “orange” we must agree that we dislike his politics, and to laugh at any joke in the show we must to some extent agree with the point that John is making. Becuase we desperately want to be entertained, and because we are liberal, and he is liberal, we submit ourselves to basically agreeing with whatever information is presented to us. And the presented political opinions are often very decisive and definite partly because of the show’s politics, and partly because yelling and being upset and making a hardline point is much funnier than evaluating the shades of grey within a political issue. The problem here isn’t so much the information itself but rather the fact that these shows inject opinions into us, which we don’t further research, and then, with a vague 20 minute understanding, regurgitate either to other liberals who excitingly agree or to right wing people (the other, the enemy in this case) who frustratingly don’t understand the “truth”. The content is almost irrelevant here, it’s the system of information that’s the problem because it contributes to the binary state of American politics, and creates less and less space for dialogue between politcally different individuals.

//Extra thoughts on late night from later

relates in some way to slajov zizek’s ideas about the modern boss (that the boss being friendly with you is actually a bad thing because it masks the underlying power dynamics that are part of your relationship and makes it harder to understand and overcome this aspect of class/worker struggle)

in the same way comedy masks the nature of modern media and how it shapes our opinions with “concrete” facts when actually maybe its better to accept our “post fact” reality (assuming that there every was a “pre-fact” reality, which there wasn’t really) and analyze it as such, rather than simply picketing on “our” side (the liberal side) of the war between two sides which both think that they have the “real” facts (dare I say, information wars? (wow if not for Alex Jones that would be a great term) )