Category Archives: Technology & Society

Useless Labor and Production of the Self

… we want to feel useful, and there are fewer opportunities for that in the sphere of production. So consumption becomes production, and the main way that happens is to make what we consume more salient and more socially significant, to have it inflect an ever-shifting language of status signifiers.

This whole set-up, in turn, fuels the view that narcissism and hipsterism are increasing society-wide, since self-production in the mode of marketing copy (developing the personal brand) is more and more what people do, if not for a living, then simply to appear, to be socially relevant.

From popmatters.com, via @timoreilly

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

From the New York Times:

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”