Morlock Elloi on Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:04:44 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> the medium is the peer

This may sound as far-fetched amateur anthropology, but is worth considering. The initial motivation came from observing how protective users are when their handsets are concerned. As there is no known parallel of similar widespread object-attention in the recorded history, it must be drawing on some older innate mechanism.

I found this excerpt:

What had happened was that Gloria walked in the front door of Synanon [for drug counselling] and they had gamed her right off. Someone, on purpose, had walked past her as she sat waiting to be interviewed and had remarked on how ugly she was. The next person to parade past had informed her that her hair looked like something a rat slept in.

Gloria had always been sensitive about her curly hair. She wished it was long … What the third Synanon member would have said was moot, because by then Gloria had gone upstairs to the tenth floor [to kill herself].

“Is that how Synanon works?” Fat asked.

Bob said, “It’s a technique to break down the personality. It’s a fascist therapy that makes the person totally outer-directed and dependent on the group. Then they can build up a new personality that isn’t drug oriented.”

from Philip K. Dick, VALIS.

at , which considers one particular application of Synanon and spinoff techniques.

Is it possible that there is a direct mapping between the peer group mechanism and handset/social phenomenon ?

The combination of personal handsets, carried at all times, and social networks with their continuous streams, creates a similar continuous-presence environment as Synanon-like techniques. But it's not the presence of one particular peer-pressure group; there are many of them. These groups are just the fodder.

The continuous presence is the presence of the Network itself, the users are conditioned to depend on it. It's a rather clever scheme, (ab)using groups in a meta way, as a background chatter, to effect the real dependency, on the Network, via its physical emissary, the handset. The medium was the message, now the medium is the peer. Medium as peer has significant advantages over traditional peer groups: it's not committed/hardcoded to any particular ideology, it can pipe anything, once it forced itself to be accepted in the peer role.

If this is indeed what's going on, then the current 'social' network scene is just a preparatory stage. At some point the unreliable human groups will be replaced with something easier to control. Once everything is AI and bots, how will we call the real human intruders ... hums?

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