media philosophy

In modern society most of us don’t want to be in touch with ourselves; we want to be in touch with other things like religion, sports, politics, a book - we want to forget ourselves. Anytime we have leisure, we want to invite something else to enter us, opening ourselves to the television and telling the television to come and colonize us.
—  Thich Nhat Hanh
In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies—the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distraction.
—  Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

«Journal for Research on the Visual Media of Language Expression», Volume VIII Number 4, Edited by Mareld E. Wrolstad, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1974

Our taverns and our metropolitan streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories appeared to have locked us up hopelessly. Then came the film and burst this prison world asunder by the dynamite of the tenth of a second, so that now, in the midst of its far flung ruins and debris, we calmly and adventurously go travelling. With the close-up, space expands; with slow motion movement is extended. The enlargement of a snapshot does not simply render more precise what in any case was visible, though unclear: it reveals entirely new structural formations of the subject.
—  Walter Benjamin

You know, I often run into people that haven’t seen me in a while, and, perhaps feeling obligated to portray a concern for my well-being, they’ll typically greet me with an enthusiastic “Where have you been?!” followed by “You never post online anymore”, as if being unable to passively observe me update my social media suggests that I’m inaccessible, or that my presence in my community, my relevance in the lives of my peers, is defined solely by the frequency of my posts online.

Unless I have a question, I’m trying to initiate a social gathering, or I feel like sharing something deeply intimate or potentially insightful, I’m probably not going to post anything. I don’t experience a compulsion to catalog trivial aspects of my daily routine on social media or feel compelled to garner sympathy for some kind of adversity or misfortunes I experience because I don’t perceive that to justify anybody’s attention.

If you sincerely value me and want to reacquaint, or more importantly, establish some kind of intimate, meaningful, co-empowering relationship, perhaps create something together, you can always IM me, text me, call me, etc, and ideally, we can organize an occasion for some measure of actual human interaction; just engage me. Directly.

If the great philosophers of Ancient Greece were alive today, the vast majority of them would be shitposting memelords. I’m not even being facetious - that sort of thing was totally in their idiom. Especially the Cynics; buncha wankers who thought they were saving civilisation from itself through ironic performance art would have killed to have a forum like modern social media.

unconventional advice for your first year of high school

(by a jaded 23 year-old who’s speaking from her own experience to all the young’uns out there about to start their freshman/grade 9 years)

  • never underestimate the ridiculous things your classmates will do on a dare because grade 9s have the maturity of small chihuahuas. don’t let them get you involved (but appreciate from afar so you’ve got good stories to tell)
  • don’t stop in the middle of the hallway!!! if you’re lost step off to the side to figure out where you are. i can’t stress this enough, the only thing that we would complain about with niners/freshmen was that they would block the hallway and by senior year you just lack the patience for that
  • do not let other kids make you feel bad for being passionate, excited, or vocal about the things you love. being a nerd is a good thing despite what a lot of people will say or think. 
  • the only people i knew who ended up in lockers got in there voluntarily- never once did i hear or see of anyone getting shoved into a locker. 
  • exams are terrifying the first time, but study hard and stick to what works for you. you study best in silence at your desk? cool. listening to classical music and lounging on your bed? cool. spreading your notes all over the floor while binge-watching Friends? (that one was definitely me. might sound un-productive, but i spent all 4 years on the honour roll so) there is no perfect way to study: only the way that works for you.
  • don’t let that kid in math class throw your pencil sharpener out the window, no matter how cute/tall he is. he’s actually kind of a jerk and you can do way better.
  • your friends and you might drift apart. it will suck, but it’ll be worth it in the end when you find the people that are truly your people.
  • it is downright terrifying to find a seat at lunch, but it gets easier the more you go for it. (also there is nothing wrong with eating lunch by yourself. sometimes you’ve gotta be your own bff.)
  • take cool classes in addition to the ones you need. philosophy, yearbook, media arts, photography, ancient history, and law had nothing to do with my career choices, but they were fun and interesting.
  • there are teachers who are downright mean for no reason. all you can do is keep your head down and survive. try to bond with others in the class who can help you out and you can commiserate together. and remember: it’s not permanent. 
  • it’s okay to skip freshman activities day. school often doesn’t understand that not everyone thinks messy and loud relay races are a good time. you gotta do you sometimes. (don’t skip orientation though. it honestly helps.)
  • for uterus-havers, always store pads or tampons in your locker. ALWAYS. (pun intended.) other essentials to keep in the locker: deodorant, chapstick, an extra t-shirt, lined paper, and pencils. 
  • breathe. smile. laugh a lot. get to know your teachers. join clubs. take cool field trips when you can. be patient with yourself. high school is confusing and terrifying with moments of happiness mixed in with it!! you will get through it and you’ll come out the other side with a sense of self and some great stories.