Leisure is like work: in this cultural and economic environment consumption operates according to the same logic as production.
Scrolling through all the information-detritus of the internet, looking for the next hit of amusement, or outrage, or faux-edifying factoid. This kind of activity is essentially what we do for an employer. We navigate the data to extract a momentarily engaging triviality. Divorced from any meaningful context (depth), these superficies (surfaces) solicit our attention, directing it away from reflection and toward the ephemeral sugar-buzz of sensation.
“Where do you want to go today?” is not simply a rhetorical question that functions as a branding mechanism. It is also a demand to keep moving. Which is precisely what the police tell people on the street.
People on their cell phones live in both virtual reality and “meat space” (the physical world) simultaneously– which is to say that they fully inhabit neither.
“Networking” is another symptom of the reifying effects of neoliberal capitalism. People become “contacts” to whom we “reach out” in order to gain some benefit.
Templates direct our intentions. We live in a fill-in-the-blanks culture where form is given– even dictated– and content is entirely predictable.
Films are evaluated in terms of “box office,” while pictures of anthropomorphized animals on social media are paid in “likes.”
“Reality” television and other melodramas model human behavior for us, just as digitally manipulated images of youth and beauty distort our self-perception.
Prodigies, wonders, and freaks of culture populate the landscape of endless, relentless advertising. Athletic septugenarians kayak off waterfalls. Photogenic three year olds break dance, striking obscenely adult poses. The signifiers of nerd culture, once the sanctuary of the painfully awkward and self-conscious, are artfully deployed to promote credit cards.
Have you noticed how many banks there are now?
None of this is incidental. The effect is nothing less than the colonization of human subjectivity by capital.