Can we discuss these damn things? They are the fundamental, basic units of advanced capitalism.
Any person with a fraction of sentience has reacted with unease at least once in life at the near ubiquitous sight of streams of people staring blankly at their phones, utterly oblivious and disconnected to the world around them and enthralled by mechanisms of conditioning built into the apps that draw their attention.
It is evident how total and comprehensive the techno-capitalist’s commodification of the entire “enphoned” human life is, how utterly billions of people have been chained to a single object controlled by the capitalist overlord.
I am particularly interested in the analysis of smartphones with respect to theorist Byung-Chul Han’s thesis of burnout society particularly his observations about excess positivity/hyperstimulation and “auto-exploitation.” I will now summarize these two theses.
Han proposes that contemporary first-world software-centric capitalism has evolved how it exploits labor and disenfranchises the proletariat using the new advanced tools at its disposal . Particularly, although certainly not exclusively, how it exploits certain white collar workers, “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” with aspirations of social mobility and entrepreneurial success. This class segment tends to be the low ranking foot soldiers of the tech industry.
In an effort to appeal to these aspirations, the capitalist system pushes a culture of excess positivity that results in self-exploitation. Rather than cracking the whip and threatening doom if productivity is not kept up, the capitalist system now attempts to make people believe overwork is in their own benefit. (Elon Musk being a particularly blaring example of this treachery.) Excess positivity means constant production, stimulation, energy, enhancement, activity, optimism; and it necessitates the elimination of negative spaces of repose, relaxation, contemplation, regeneration. The resulting culture of hyperactivity invariably leads to crashes and burnout.
Smartphones are a component in this design. People are anxious not to check their phones almost constantly, because they fear that if they are away from it, their entire world will collapse. They are roped into captological entrapments, and force-fed an endless stream of consumptive simulations like ducks being prepared for foie gras .
Smartphones are really dumbphones becaPost too long. Click here to view the full text.