[NetBehaviour] last post for a while - on Facebook/Metaverse

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Sep 24 15:26:35 CET 2022

*/Taking a break from posting on Netbehaviour, I miss other
voices. But I did want to send this out, from a few days ago,
thinking about the fast-forward transformations of social
media. And apologies for previous posting too much. - Alan/*


As if I were speaking extemporaneous at a conference, not
knowing anything about anything, but thinking important things.


Surfaces: Metaverse / Facebook / Youtube / TikTok / Twitter
I'd like to begin by considering the change of Facebook to Meta
with the implication of metaverse . Facebook originally got its
title from the fact that it was a Facebook that it was almost
like a yearbook for students . The face of a student would be
reproduced and there would be commentary and there would be
interconnections between that student and another student and a
scan of students and a community and a scan of community . Face
and book are both material objects . They exist in the real
world they are subject to decay and destruction. They come
together with the idea that one is an open book . The face is
there to be red and the book is there to be carried about as an
object as a friend. They interact . This is important because it
ties the virtual to the real in a very materialized way. By the
time you reach meta or metaverse , you're in a different world .
You're in the world which is sutured from the outside world a
world which is made of pixels or other uniform grids . The
implication is that you can live in a metaverse. Metaphors of
metaverse is defined as a totality which is external to the grit
and dirt of the real world. You know where this is going already
. The division between to clean and proper body which is the
body of fascism the body of totality and totalization and the
body of dirt the body of gristle and bone is enormous. United
States life span it's going down . Arable land is going down .
Climate change is far more brutal than it was ever expected to
be . Larger cities are getting tent cities within them some
cities underground cities cities on the margins even within the
city of people who are homeless people who are sick people who
have access to little education people who are absented from
education in other words . Every spaceship launched into outer
space carrying millionaires or billionaires is already producing
an encapsulated world and we all know this, a world which is
sterile in relationship to the grid below. We are talking about
escaping to Mars because we want to live the violence and pain
behind. We will bring the violence and pain with us. This is one
of the oldest tropes in science fiction. The flesh can't escape
the flesh . But Facebook is moving away from the real face and
the real book just as YouTube is no longer about you but more
about the tube . And you know where this is going I notice that
the talk about the network society is increasingly headed
towards abstraction and using almost the same language the
neoliberalism or corporations do I know this that corporations
are now attacking the individual bodies of their employees at
the lower levels by posting ads In which the enemy is the union.
You know where this is going. This is a very real crisis because
on one hand for example we worry and become upset about the work
with the war in Ukraine but on the other we get excited about
the possibilities of living in the Meadow in the metaverse . We
use blockchain instead of filthy money. We talk about inter-
continent interconnectivity and the opening of the world and all
the data in the world to all of us. But that isn't true and that
has never been true. The number of people the amount of people
we have left behind is almost inconceivable. The amount of drugs
in the United States and elsewhere, in particular fentanyl in
the opiates is inconceivable. What it's doing to whole
populations of people who have no way otherwise of being in the
world and are vulnerable to these things is inconceivable.
Starvation and bad health care are inconceivable but they're
found in every country in the world at this point. People are
turning towards what might be called magical thinking, not
because they're ignorant, but because they've been marginalized
all along . Magical thinking connects the grit with the network,
the face/book with the meta/verse. It revolutionizes that . It
gives power to that. It's a lottery. The metaverse on the other
hand is junk . It solves nothing . Yes , it can be used in
robotics for the handling of medical and dangerous materials.
Yes, all those things . But those things depend on connectivity
with the "idiotic real" to use a phrase . The idiotic real is
the world we live in where magical thinking falls flat unless
it's carried by the barrel of a gun or cyberwarfare . They can
do anything. The wealthy build their islands , own their islands
and their compounds , associate with the wealthy . We all know
all of this. This is the worst thing about what I'm writing ,
that we all know this we all know all of this. And we are
powerless to do anything about it we working in Crete. We work
in increasingly abstracted modalities . We are borrowing from
the same neoliberalist concepts in the world that the
industrialists use. And we realize even then that we're doing
nothing but a kind imitation of power that itself is power. Our
universities may be brilliant and are doing brilliant things but
at the same time when you live downtown in the city and you see
the homeless here and you see people who are dying of drugs on
the street and this is happening in front of you day in and day
out the world appears very different. And I wanna mention the
drugs just for a second because the fentanyl is getting worse a
report yesterday showed that some of the newer drugs are being
disguised as candy for children particularly as M&Ms and as
chiclets things of those shapes . There has to be action with
sub action. There has to be action on the ground as well as
within the networks. By that I don't mean network displays.
There are enough beautiful displays within and without virtual
worlds to last a lifetime. There's not enough food on the
ground. There's not enough awareness that things have to be
acting and acted upon on the ground in the ground among our
neighbors among our friends. This isn't as much fun as thinking
about the metaverse and it's quote possibilities UN quote . But
it's a hell of a lot more immediate. It has to be done now . It
has to be done by people putting down their cellphones which
they won't do of course and looking around them . And this has
to be on a large scale not the kind of small movements that are
being written about in small bits talking about how the world
can be made better period the world can't be made better until
we abandon the metaverse and everything it stands for and turned
more towards the face and the book. Towards slow slow knowledge
. Towards knowledge that has to be absorbed on the ground with
physicality in relationship to computation and networks . The
physicality disappears in the metaverse. The latest developments
are smaller pixels so when you're wearing your may I ask you
will not be able to tell whether you are in the real world or
the artificial world. Delusion Guattari would have had a lot to
say about that. Everything I'm saying here again is so trite as
to be ridiculous . A 5 year old could take this apart. But
that's not the point . The point is is that if we keep going in
the direction that we are we're going to increase abandoning our
schools and abandoning our medical systems heading more and more
towards shorter life spans and more and more to local wars and
local diseases and healthcare emergencies around the world.
That's just a fact that's a fact that's been known since the
1960s . That's just a fact that's all it is. Sorry this isn't
more academic. But the Academy itself is increasingly siloed and
increasingly developed its own internal way of speaking its own
conferences its own colloquia it's own networks it's on meetings
it's own conferences . Moving farther and farther away from the
people who at one point it might have served. Though perhaps it
never served them in the first place. In any case reading and
writing skills are going down around the world. Not out the
window perhaps, but down below, elsewhere than where our minds
are taking us . All of this btw isn't luddite, far from it; it's
the opposite. It's towards the dirty and improper body , the
inverse re: Kristeva. It's towards breaking down the walls of
legislation against minorities, women, sexualities, the poor -
anyone pushed to the side by the false meritocracy of wealth,
power, family. Again, None of this is new . I just have to keep
repeating that. It almost sounds like the old Marxist routines.
But it's not that . It's a way we have all been subsumed under
the sign of networks. As if we can't think without them . As if
they grant us an inconceivable power of being able to interact
with people worldwide. With other planets, galaxies, species. As
if power were no longer around the corner, but is now within us.
It's a seduction and somewhat insidious - something's that's of
course been claimed with every new innovation in the world. But
this seduction is everywhere and everywhen , from the ease of
looking up ancestors to ignoring the increasing pain in the
world . So what is to be done? I honestly don't know. I don't
expect anyone anywhere to suddenly turn around and abandon
electronics or networking or anything else that the digital
revolution has brought us . So it's not a question of that at
all. That's a given . That's the world we live in. The problem
is what are we going to do about the fact that the world is
increasingly unable to sustain us. If it can't sustain the poor
if it can't sustain the sick and the elderly if it can't sustain
the other it can't sustain us. And I have no answer whatsoever
for this . I spoke that almost breathlessly because it's the
truth I have almost I have no answer for this . But we need to
be aware of these things and we're out in the street when we're
wearing our goggles when we're voting when we're passing tent
cities When we're wondering why there's so much crime when we're
wondering why there's so much agony when we're wondering why
there's so much violence in this street when we're wondering why
we can't breathe the air anymore because of fires all around us
and we can't drink the water because it's contaminated and we
can only look on with envy at people who are escaping to islands
that they owned in the ocean which one do you think get flooded
. The rest of us are going to be underwater for a long time. The
rest of us are going to be underwater forever . Here's a motto :
I said there are no beautiful people or all of us are beautiful
people . And we have to act on that. And at this point it's
probably useless. Which is why I woke early this morning at 5
after going to bed And thinking this is the way the world is:
it's no longer a face and a book - it's a Meta .


More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list