Hey so I know I’m like the guy who is into weird community shit and someone who totally advocates for internet community stuff, which is true and rad and people are rad. But I re-read something from a chapter I’m editing this week (ugh ugh ugh zombie theeeeesiisss will not diiiieeee) that gave me pause. The thing about community is that on the one hand it’s totally fucking great, but on the other hand it’s also kinda a trap…
J.K. Gibson-Graham, weird Deleuzian economists who are actually two people but who write as one, said the following:
“It is an interesting irony that in the current neoliberal political and economic climate, in which individualism is promoted as an unquestioned social good, all over the world the term community has increasingly come to the fore.”
These guys also mention some important critiques of the way that the vacuum or void left by the destructive forces of neoliberalism ends up being plugged (or lauded as being able to be plugged, while not effectively being able to do so – a crucial point) by community. They cite journalism professor Tom Morton (not Tim Morton, the OOO philosopher) who proposes that it has become “a cult” and that behind the rhetoric in which “it’s supposed to be a panacea for reducing crime, stopping youth suicide, getting the unemployed back to work, and improving your health” it has also provided “camouflage behind which government has conducted a massive withdrawal from society”.
Lately I have also been thinking about the media, and why it is that ordinary people are still willing to talk to the media. At the gym today I saw a a Channel 9 news story on the Melbourne ferris wheel thing and the guy who spotted the ‘crack’ in one of the pods who was talking to the media. I keep wondering, why do people do this? Why, given the offer of “explaining yourself” or “telling your story” to the benefit of a for-profit news corporation that will use your face for 15 seconds and sell advertisements before and after it.
I think the common thing in both is that people are willing to do almost anything for other people. In the former, it’s people picking up the slack for what previously it had been agreed that governments should look after (and often, doing so at great personal cost). In the latter, again, it’s often (when not for a shot at one’s 15 secs of fame) for the sake of informing people. It’s a very human thing to both help others, and to tell of what one knows. But non-people keep expropriating this gift. It drives me nuts.
Anyway, I initially came here I think to talk about community as panacea, and point out how much Douglas Wilson’s conclusions to this great piece on the Speluky eggplant run seem to fall into the same trap of hyping community without noticing all the non-people that are expropriating stuff along the way. TwitchTV is a commercial service. Youtube is a commercial service. Xbox is commercial. Steam is commercial. Mossmouth is a company. I don’t want to fall into the equal trap of saying that all human interaction is debased by commerce, and Doug Wilson is a smart guy. But I wish things were better.
Oops I meant to go shopping tonight.