Neoliberalism and the digital text

Berfrois have a piece by Davin Heckman on ‘Neoliberalism and the digital text‘. It’s a substantial piece that explores some of the connections between media developments, including developments in social media, and wider narratives of neoliberalism. Here is a short illustrative excerpt:

What’s interesting, however, is the compelling subjective attraction of online participation, not just as a matter of content, but as a formal reality of the work. In virtual worlds, we experience dramatized versions of our own expression. The degree to which these representations can prove captivating is the degree to which they depart from the mundane. Often, the degree to which online socialization is felt is the degree to which it differs from one’s day-to-day subjective encounters. This is “escapism.” And though digital communication affords many opportunities for escape, it is also important to realize that the escapist element of online activity is not the sole attraction, nor is it static or stable. Just as quickly, the subjective value of escape can be displaced by the desire to affirm and reinforce one’s sense of self and its social, material, and psychic situation. Hence, Wittig’s piece is clever precisely in the ways it clings to this paradox. We often want to inhabit these fantasy worlds, but we also want to be real within them. We want to bring the subjective elements into the real world, but we also want our fantasies to remain with us. We want to discover ourselves in the immersion of play, but we adapt ourselves to the norms of the virtual world in order to make this immersion realistic. Of course, this has always been a feature of human language, the struggle between logos and poesis, but in a richly mediated environment, it only makes sense that such semiotic tension would mutate into multimodal and transmedial forms appropriate for the ordinary norms of representation for a given society.

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