(un)common ground

a commonplace book


The clear distinction between the on and offline, between human and technology, is queered beyond tenability. …We have come to understand more and more of our lives through the logic of digital connection. Social media is more than something we log into; it is something we carry within us. We can’t log off.

Nathan Jurgenson, “The IRL Fetish,” The New Inquiry (June 28, 2012)

I appreciate the idea of the first sentence. Jurgenson’s prior arguments (this extract is from his concluding statements) perhaps extend too far the fetishization of the “real,” and yet his point is a compelling one. Jurgenson describes the dichotomy as zero-sum, but argues that it is a false distinction, particularly in terms of social practice: “When Turkle was walking Cape Cod, she breathed in the air, felt the breeze, and watched the waves with Facebook in mind. The appreciation of this moment of so-called disconnection was, in part, a product of online connection. The stroll ultimately was understood as and came to be fodder for her op-ed, just as our own time spent not looking at Facebook becomes the status updates and photos we will post later.” Hence, the dichotomy is queered into a squishy, hard-to-define mess. Jurgenson, I think justifiably, argues that we should move beyond the distinction; but I might disagree with his premise that we sensually appreciate disconnection more even if we don’t fetishize it.

For a linguistic criticism of the online/offline dichotomy, see: “There’s No Such Thing as Offline?!?”, PBS Idea Channel, February 20, 2013. Rugnetta, unlike Jurgenson, provides perhaps a clearer direction on the implications of the dichotomy’s being false.


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This entry was posted on August 20, 2015 by and tagged , .
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