Tag: Digital Distraction, Personal Agency and The Reflexive Imperative

I love this description by Damon Young on pg 154 of his Distraction: Online friendships afford a similar bounty: instantaneous, often hilarious adventures in debate, discussion, dialogue. The ties are strong enough to sate the social urge, but their gossamer threads never bind us tightly, rarely ask for the commitments and cohabitations of our closest […]

This is a really nice account in Damon Young’s Distraction of what Margaret Archer calls the necessity of selection. From pg 2: Psychological blockages are part of a much larger set of limitations: those of mortal life itself. There are only so many professions, sexual partners, houses, entertainments and amusements available; and we only have so […]

Another really provocative idea from Rethinking Social Exclusion by Simon Winlow and Steve Hall. From pg 126: This supposedly ethical process of distancing oneself from vulgar commercialism is a variant of self-exclusion from the social; like it or not, these non-places come closest to representing the actuality of contemporary British life. There is no more ‘reality’ or […]

In our discussion of metrics systems, it’s easy to treat subjectivity as a cipher, regarding people as passively moulded by algorithms or blindly governed by the incentives that operate through the institutionalisation of the metrics. My objection to the former is not the claim that people are shaped by metrics, but rather the assumption that this process is […]

I’m very interested in the way ‘laziness’ now tends to be used to describe procrastination: it’s often a loaded term to covey that someone is driven by their own interests rather than institutional ones. Here’s an example of what I mean, from Misbehaving, by Richard Thaler, pg xiii: The interview started. Hearing a friend tell an […]

An interesting snippet from pg 150 of Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success: When first used by psychologist Alfred Adler in 1929, lifestyle referred to strategies people used to avoid dealing with problems or uncomfortable situations. The word was repurposed in the 1960s to mean something akin to “way of living.” In […]

I just came across this brief reference in Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success which makes me think it’s important to read Sontag to develop my case about digital distraction. From pg 63: Susan Sontag would observe in On Photography that inexpensive photos, produced by the hundreds, created a record that allowed an […]

I’m really pleased this paper has been published. It got to well over 17,000 words at one point, prompting me to realise that I was actually starting a book, which I’m now a good year into planning and writing: Social movements often make an important contribution to the normative order within social life but how […]

From Zizek’s Trouble in Paradise, pg 174-175: The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to ‘be active’, to ‘participate’, to mask the Nothingness of what goes on. People intervene all the time, ‘do something’, while academics participate in meaningless ‘debates’, and so on, and the truly difficult thing is to step back, […]

In my recent work, I’ve been writing a lot about ‘temporising’, a concept I borrowed from Margaret Archer’s work in the hope of developing it further. In the reflexivity sense, temporising involves trying to find a solution to a present dilemma through the exercise of temporal agency. I spoke earlier did this week at a […]

Notes for my talk for the Reflexivity Forum at Warwick on May 24th What does it mean to be distracted? For the last year, I’ve been telling people that I’m working on a new project about digital distraction and everyone seems to immediately grasp what I mean by this. But conceptualising precisely what we should […]

This essay on Medium has reminded me of my idea to write a short satirical self-help book, addressing individual problems as social and economic issues:   If I am struggling financially it is because the financial system is morally corrupt. This truth is a mantric elixir — repeat it to yourself every time the habits of your mind […]

I’m very interested in this concept, which I was introduced to through the work of Pierpaolo Donati and Andrea Maccarini earlier this year. It emerged from the work of Arnold Gehlen and refers to the role of human institutions in unburdening us from existential demands. This is quoted from his Human Beings and Institutions on pg 257 […]

This is a really nice description from Craig Lambert’s Shadow Work of a problem I describe in a forthcoming paper as the multiplication of communication channels. From loc 3038-3054: The mushrooming number of communication channels spins off another type of shadow work. At one time, to reach a friend, you could send a letter or […]

An extract from Social Media for Academics In recent years we’ve seen the notion of ‘internet addiction’ enter the popular consciousness. As a self-description it’s sometimes invoked facetiously, some­times desperately and occasionally in a way which combines the two. It would be silly for me to try and take a stance on such a complex […]

Another fascinating event in London I can’t get to: *Digital Subjects* *12 May 2016, Senate House, London* *Organiser:* Olga Goriunova, Royal Holloway University of London Digital subjects can be many things: a nested set of abstractions assembled by algorithms; a dynamic data aggregate feeding upon the movement of bodies in space and time; an experiential, […]