Journey to acceptance
The society of the spectacle
Spectacles are all around us, the spectacle that really entrigued me was from Hito Steyerl, Is the Internet Dead?
It tackles the thought of wether we are the internet or the internet is us. We created this world wide web yet it seems to have taken over our lives. Did the freedom get to our heads? What is the worth of modern life without internet?
Those questions were triggered by her quote: “Just look around you: artificial islands mimic genetically manipulated plants. Dental offices parade as car commercial film sets. Cheekbones are airbrushed just as whole cities pretend to be YouTube CAD tutorials.”
This took me to my second source which is also from Hito Steyerl: “How not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactical Educational Mov File.” Are we pretending to be alive? Are we listening to AI or are we the AI? What is AI and what role do they play in our virtual lives? What would happen if we quit being spectacles? Would we disappear into nothingness? Do our lives have meaning without it?
A lot of repeated questions which I would love to know the answer about. I would like to write this essay from my point of perspective: A consumer who is becoming a creator of the thing which has alienated us from real life.
“Never before have more people been dependent on, embedded into, surveilled by, and exploited by the web.” This quote from Hito Steyerl kept repeating inside of my head like some kind of lamnet. A haunting feeling creeping up my spine as I read her essay over and over again. Are we really tranferring our consiousness to the world wide web? Can we still disconnect and what’ll happen when we do? Has our generation lost control?
We are the generation of the spectacles, it can be argued that our lives are meaningless if nothing has been saved. The ones who choose not to join the phenomenon of the spectacle are being seen as uncultured and are often told they are missing out. But are they really the onesmissing out?
It seems this generation have a fixation with trying to avoid inevitable death, trying to perserve as much as they can. When one dies, their social media pages live on as memorials, moderated by family and friends. I do agree we should call ourselves blessed by the internet, our captured and uploaded memories forever engraved in its never ending circuit, a web which will keep growing and expanding. Our lifes have become public to the world and frankly, no-one seems to care.
When confronted with the question ‘What if the internet just disappears?’ The reactions differ significantly. The way we, generation Z, have fabricated our entire existance around the internet is something to admire, the enless opportunities created as apps and websites. How we have completely transferred our social life online, most would start stressing when confronted with the question. If their social contacts disappear, how will they contact their friends? They have not witnessed the era where one would visit each other personally, was that person not home? Then they try again tomorrow, slip a note through their mailbox, write letters, where did that time go?
On the other hand, there would be a decrease in stress, depression and axiety were social media to disappear. Without the spectacles there will be no more pressure to become one themselves, there will just be existance, living in the here and now. Pictures would become less important and a concert can be attended without trying to weave through the endless crowds of phone screens which penetrate the otherwise dark theater. Friends will be more loyal and the society of the spectacle will play a lesser role in the lives of the average human being.
Our generation is trying to define the concept of death ‘Memento mori’. They forget that one day, one must die. But does the internet die? It does, but then again it doesn’t. It gives and it takes, just like how we, humans life our lifes by feeding off of others. Death, the end of things, has been frowned upon for decades. That motivated two youtube spectacles to create an experiment, they would create a channel, post on it dayly, and delete it and everything on it after exactly one year. Unus annus, meaning one year. What has this experiment brought to it’s watchers? It helped them understand that nothing is forever, no matter how much we try to preserve things by posting, making a spectacle of ourselves, we will eventually becoming one with the earth once again.
We call ourselves blessed because we are able to preserve our memories for a seemingly unlimited amount of time. But we all know one day this will end, when internet dies and all we collected will be lost forever. Why do we post our lifes online for all to see? What is so interesting about the lives of others? Frankly, the answers to that differ too much to give a concrete answer. However, our personal and mental health is not the only thing that’ll be affected by this.
When the internet disappears, so do jobs. Our lifes have been altered by the phenomenon of being a spectacle, so much so that people earn their money as such. Not by being a singer, actor or a blogger, but by moderating and creating the devises which allow us to become spectacles. Phones, computers and the ones who lend us service for them, the IT business.
We have created the world wide web, yet it seems to have taken over our lives. Our cheeks are filled, our faces airbrushed, our noses blurred and our skin smoothened by apps and filters. It feels as if we have completely lost our humanity. We judge people on their apperance by swiping left or right on a dating app, like it’s a meat stall at the market. Rather than buying and playing games we watch how others play them. We are the sheep who follow the ones with the most likes and followers.
I once asked my photographer friend why he quit posting his work on instagram, his answer was simple, because he didn’t get any likes. He stated that his ‘rival’ generated more likes, clicks and followers with a single post than he did. He fell into a depression, scared to ask others to model for him fearing they’d turn him down because he doesn’t have enough followers and likes. We have completely forgot to try and get to know someone, we look at followers, popularity and base our oppinions on that, completely forgetting that what’s on the internet might not even be real.
But what is real? Are we all the same online as we are offline? My second source, Hito Steyerl’s “How not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactical Educational Mov File.” has gotten me thinking about this. The voice, such a fake sounding render of a voicebank, might actually be real. The use of greenscreen, to hide within the scenery. The way the video is edited. It all comes together in my mind as one big question: What is real, and what isn’t?
We catch predators with digitally rendered underage looking girls realistic enough to lure unsuspecting pedophiles into their trap. We have avoided diving into books by asking Google, Wikipedia and other sites. We pirate movies online instead of buying them at the video store, which have now gone extinct. We can connect our fridges with our cars and add groceries to our shopping list with one simple spoken command. Have we advanced, or are we just getting lazy?
Power hungry world leaders are manipulating their followers by tweets, demanding answers to a crime which has not been commited. Hordes of sheep blindlessly follow fabricated stories and the news channels create dramatic reconstructions of things that didn’t need to be dramatised. Views and clicks have replaced the need to deliver knowledge and we fall for it. We ourselves are also guilty of said dramatic reconstructions. We post life happenings like they are one of a kind, adding extra dramatic fabrications to keep it ‘interesting’ for others, but why? Why do we need the attention?
We brag about the amount of views we get, not batting an eye at the lies written within the stories. How they have broken their leg while it was actually bruised. Empathy and compliments for a good deed fuels their ego like it fuels the cars we drive, the planes we send into the air all the wile denying global warming is the fabrication of self absorbed scientists, claiming they are deprived for attention. We forget what is real and what is fake. We feel empathy for the fire which partially destroyed the Notre Dame, the video of its inferno recieving global attention and donations while the Amazon forest burns for months, its existance going viral for a day before disappearing in the sea of misfortune, no donations, no empathy.
Where has our humanity gone with the creation of the internet? We watch video’s on how to make a fire instead of discovering it ourselves. We browse the internet for knowledge instead of reading the books. We rather shop online than go to the store. For what? To avoid social interaction while we have our screens glued to our faces from the time we wake up, till the time we go back to bed. The screens burning our retina’s and we laugh, we laugh at the way others neglect their bodies, appearing on weight loss shows while we neglect our lifes by thinking we are so much better than them.
So when the internet dies, what was it all for?