the space necessary for thinking is lost

From an interview with Samantha Rose Hill, a scholar and editor of the work of Hannah Arendt:

Would you agree that people are becoming more tribal and ideological than ever before, because they’re living in these self-reinforcing filter bubbles?

I wouldn’t say the problem is bubbles. I would say it’s appearances. Technology has transformed the nature of appearance and being in the world so that one’s everyday experiences are mediated through some form of device or apparatus, which creates a baseline level of alienation.

The other side of this is a loss of privacy. Even when one is alone, they are never really alone, and this means that the space necessary for thinking is lost. And when one loses that space for thinking, one is driven further away from themselves and more likely to get carried away by the tide.

There’s a weird comfort in that first paragraph. I’ve been saying for a long time that the “filter bubble” thesis is precisely wrong. If anything, we’re at a historical high-point when it comes to being exposed to the views of others unlike us… and as Hill observes, those views are mediated by a whole stack of softwares and platforms and hardwares which, we are lately coming to understand, have been ruthlessly shaped by the imperatives of extraction, accumulation and efficiency.

Or, to put it another way: the whole Jonathan Haidt “it’s the phones!!!1one” routine is not even wrong. It’s a bit like fighting opiate addiction by fulminating against hypodermic needles.



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