Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Digital Life' keyword pg.1 of 1
26 JANUARY 2016

Interview: Zygmunt Bauman: 'Social media are a trap'

"Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called 'armchair activism,' and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?

A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it's so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn't about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don't teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap."

(Ricardo de Querol, El País, 19 January 2016)


abandonment • armchair activism • being-in-the-worldclicktivismcomfort zonecommunityconnection made to measurecontroversydifferent perspectivesdigital lifedigital technology and human relationships • dumbing down • echo chamber • Eugenio Scalfari • feeling in control • identity performanceindividualisation • individualist age • insular communitiesliving in a shared worldloneliness • opium of the people • performativityPope Francis • real dialogue • sensible interaction • social fragmentationsocial interactionsocial mediasocial networks • social skills • sociologistspectatorship • trap • Zygmunt Bauman


Simon Perkins
11 AUGUST 2009

Hyperland: 1990 fantasy documentary speculating about the future of interactive media

"In this one–hour documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting–edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it's interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn't: these days, no one's heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super–high–tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted – for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web..."

Adams, D. N. (1990). Hyperland. UK, BBC Two: 50 minutes.



Simon Perkins
12 NOVEMBER 2008

New technical possibilities causing the individualisation of modes of media consumption

"In the current society of knowledge and communication, marked by the exponential increase of information, one might expect an even stronger hierarchy (of knowledge) within the audience than it was the case in industrial mass society – at least according to prevalent opinion (see 91). Brian Loader, for example, speaks of the 'information poor' (see 92), who, according to him, form a kind of new 'underclass' of computerized society, in which issues of access become crucial (see in addition 93). On the other hand, several empirical studies verify that differences in knowledge have remained rather constant (see 94). In compliance with a thesis of Ulrich Beck (see 44) one might, therefore, perhaps call it a 'elevator–effect': we all (perforce) are absorbing ever more information. At the same time the relative inequality remains stable (or is even enlarged) – but information use is 'lifted' to a higher general level. This shows a significant effect: on account of the generally higher level of information and the new technical possibilities for realizing individual preferences there comes about an individualization of information patterns and modes of media consumption, which finally results in a diffusion and fragmention [sic] of the public sphere."

Anil K. Jain, Heiner Keupp, et al. 2002, pp. 131–157)

Anil K. Jain, Heiner Keupp, Renate Höfer, Wolfgang Kraus (2002). "Facing Another Modernity–Individualization and Post–Traditional Ligatures". Vol. 10, No. 1/2002, pp. 131–157. European Review 10(1): 131–157.



Mia Thornton

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