The Post-Postmodernism Issue

Bleak, Shallow and Repetitive

Virtual life seems increasingly less worth living.
Virtual Suicide

Now that the thrill of our hyper-connected existence is gone, virtual life has become a depressing daily grind. We toil late into the night, unleashing an endless stream of status updates and tweets in a desperate attempt to keep ourselves relevant, desirable and in. There’s an ominous irony in FarmVille, a Facebook application that enables users to build and maintain a virtual farm. It’s more than a game: It’s an allegory. Virtual existence is feudalism for the modern age. Those who hold the information are kings and those of us toiling in the virtual fields are the servile peasantry: selling our souls for the mind-numbing comfort of an online existence.

Social Networking Sites (SNSs) promise limitless, boundless friendship – a phenomenon that should make us happier than ever. But our optimism over connectivity has gradually morphed into cynicism and resentment. It turns out virtual life is less about connectivity than self-branding. SNSs entice us to divulge and update, stroking our fragile egos with filtered ads that utilize our personal information to reap huge profits, as our hundreds of “friends” perpetually rate our online popularity. Paranoid about how we’ll be perceived, we spend hour after hour trying to avoid the virtual consequences of being deemed uncool. We have more to worry about than our online acquaintances deleting us after we’re tagged in an unflattering photo. Sites like Lamebook, devoted to reposting cliché status updates and socially awkward wall exchanges, humiliate those virtual personas who are unfamiliar with the web's mores and codes.

Bleak, shallow and repetitive, virtual life seems increasingly less worth living. Users are beginning to realize that it’s not leisure, it’s work that borders on servitude. But there’s a resistance growing among those tired of their virtual subjugation. In response to the electronic world’s rising indignation, virtual suicide sites like seppukoo.com and suicidemachine.org have started a countermovement, provoking users to kill their online selves and reclaim their real lives. These programs assist our virtual deaths by hacking into our profiles, completely annihilating our online personas and leaving no trace of our former selves behind. It’s social revolt for the online age: a mass uprising that will shatter the virtual hierarchy and restore order to our actual lives.

46 comments on the article “Bleak, Shallow and Repetitive”

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AvaStar

This is gold - in our death obsessed disconnected augmented culture your words are a splinter of light - I've been waiting for this quite revolt - those who consider technology as a dark magic that no one quite understands yet - a collective fad that has taken everybody by surprise - Such posts as yours will hopefully cause the 'user' that is in fact the 'used' to become more and more cognizant of the choice they are (not) making. Bravo!

AvaStar

This is gold - in our death obsessed disconnected augmented culture your words are a splinter of light - I've been waiting for this quite revolt - those who consider technology as a dark magic that no one quite understands yet - a collective fad that has taken everybody by surprise - Such posts as yours will hopefully cause the 'user' that is in fact the 'used' to become more and more cognizant of the choice they are (not) making. Bravo!

Red Fox

While I am amused at the idea of annihilating one's online persona in an attempt to re-enter the more real world, I would say this critique misses the mark.

The virtual world is a tool and it can be used in different ways, the people using this tool are at least in some control of what they are subjecting themselves too. I think then it is a matter of certain individuals being responsible for using the newly discovered virtual freedom in ways that co-opt their expression in the real world.

A far more interesting critique would have focused on the corporate like state emerging within the spaces of freedom cultivated by social communities. Not to mention the increasingly annoying ads that are filling up more and more space but also the ways in which social networking sites have really morphed into corporate spaces of propaganda. I mean how can Coke, or any other company have a Facebook page? Coke is not a face, nor is a person, but the idea implicit in this is that a corporation has the same rights as an individual. We already know how much the real political and economic world is controlled by the corporate state, we are now witnessing the corporate state take over the virtual world and to stamp out its freedom.

While the idea of choosing one reality over another is romantic if not nostalgic, the real choice is to maintain access to all worlds, real, virtual, or dreamed up. People should find purpose in what they do and not just blindly follow a trail of crumbs. The capacity for emancipation in the virtual realm is as significant as it is in any other possible world. Are only chance of an Utopian future is to struggle for freedom everywhere.

Red Fox

While I am amused at the idea of annihilating one's online persona in an attempt to re-enter the more real world, I would say this critique misses the mark.

The virtual world is a tool and it can be used in different ways, the people using this tool are at least in some control of what they are subjecting themselves too. I think then it is a matter of certain individuals being responsible for using the newly discovered virtual freedom in ways that co-opt their expression in the real world.

A far more interesting critique would have focused on the corporate like state emerging within the spaces of freedom cultivated by social communities. Not to mention the increasingly annoying ads that are filling up more and more space but also the ways in which social networking sites have really morphed into corporate spaces of propaganda. I mean how can Coke, or any other company have a Facebook page? Coke is not a face, nor is a person, but the idea implicit in this is that a corporation has the same rights as an individual. We already know how much the real political and economic world is controlled by the corporate state, we are now witnessing the corporate state take over the virtual world and to stamp out its freedom.

While the idea of choosing one reality over another is romantic if not nostalgic, the real choice is to maintain access to all worlds, real, virtual, or dreamed up. People should find purpose in what they do and not just blindly follow a trail of crumbs. The capacity for emancipation in the virtual realm is as significant as it is in any other possible world. Are only chance of an Utopian future is to struggle for freedom everywhere.

Michael Wolf

The analysis is correct, the cause identified but the solution is wrong. This shouldn't be about people destroying their online existence but about them regaining it. Like it or not, cyberspace has become an integral part of our llife and it interacts on a daily base with meatspace. People don't need a recipy for virtual suicide but a survival manual to make sure that SNSs don't become the new 'opium for the masses'.

Michael Wolf

The analysis is correct, the cause identified but the solution is wrong. This shouldn't be about people destroying their online existence but about them regaining it. Like it or not, cyberspace has become an integral part of our llife and it interacts on a daily base with meatspace. People don't need a recipy for virtual suicide but a survival manual to make sure that SNSs don't become the new 'opium for the masses'.

Debby Davis

You can turn just about anything into something negative or bad. It's very tempting to do that if you have a negtive mindset. I much prefer to have friends, with purity and trust, than not. I understand where these statements and thoughts are coming from, but life is too short to be so cynical. I love my fb friends, and i don't feel that I have to compete with them. If things are said that I don't agree with, I just move on, because some people are stuck, alone, and don't get a chance to go anywhere they wish to go at any time. It perks me right up to know that there are people that care enough just to reach out, and I certainly want to reach out to them.

Debby Davis

You can turn just about anything into something negative or bad. It's very tempting to do that if you have a negtive mindset. I much prefer to have friends, with purity and trust, than not. I understand where these statements and thoughts are coming from, but life is too short to be so cynical. I love my fb friends, and i don't feel that I have to compete with them. If things are said that I don't agree with, I just move on, because some people are stuck, alone, and don't get a chance to go anywhere they wish to go at any time. It perks me right up to know that there are people that care enough just to reach out, and I certainly want to reach out to them.

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