On Digital Diaspora

I’m doing a digital communication course this semester. I’m not really into it – for a host of reasons, like accessability. The subject of cyberliberterianism has come up, and the whole course runs through Reddit – which has been praised non-stop for all the wonderful good it does as a demotic system. I have to have a reddit account for this semester. I have to post on Reddit. It’s one of the rules.

It’s very hard to engage with these topics in a purely academic, removed fashion. If we were discussing topics like Ancient Greek history, or the potential ramifications of fusion power, those are abstractions, disconnected elements from the reality in which I live that can be discussed at arm’s length. When we talk about heavily interconnected online spaces, though, that’s part of my life. When we talk about the steady slow shifting of human life through the media of online spaces, that’s been the part of my childhood that isn’t awful.

There’s always going to be some feeling about it. It’s inevitable. This week, Liquid Labour isn’t just a hypothetical element of a future cyber environment, it’s part of my life. It’s one of the ways I’ve paid my bills. It’s been part of how I’ve gotten jobs, it’s been part of why my jobs have disappeared. I firmly believe these things influence everyone, I’m just in a position where the influence they’ve had on me has been clear and direct. I have, as a human keenly aware of my educational shortcomings, deliberately worked to maintain and cultivate a connection to extelligence: when I don’t know something, I look it up, or I ask someone who does. These past few months, I’ve been cut off from my extelligence, with the internet completely absent.

The strangest effect this has had on me has not been the classic internet addict, where I feel tired or sad or listless, but rather one of intense frustration. Someone mentions a thing near me, and my reaction – I wonder what that means – is stymied. Suddenly, the boundaries of my intellect are limited at the edges of myself. Years of this extelligential exploration has made that boundary pretty wide but I know when I’m ignorant. I know where it’s missing spots.

I used to fly, but now I walk, and it is crushing to feel that weight on me again.

Then I hear people talking about bad ideas in bad spaces, right next to me, and I am told I am not allowed to answer them.

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