The rhythms of life, the ups and downs of nature and everyday life must disappear in this world; for the weakness and inadequacy of human time, its diffuse and intertwined structures”, writes Jonathan Cray, “there is no place left in the present global digital 24-7 system. The 24/7 mode has long since produced a disenchanted world without any secrets, a restless and differential world of indifference that is at the same time eerily identical, a world without ghosts, a world that, on the one hand, seeks to eliminate darkness and, on the other hand, flattens the day with its various rhythms, periods and idiosyncrasies towards one-dimensionality while at the same time shattering it through differences. So it is truly no coincidence that the goods, objects and events that circulate in everyday life are mostly reduced to their mere functionality, calculation and efficiency, even to their usefulness for capitalization, so that even the minimal contingencies, breaks and eruptions in everyday life disappear, especially by culturalizing everyday life in such a way that a feverish and invisibly controlled search for the original, the real and the authentic begins, which, no matter what may be used as the result of the search by the cultural industry, is above all characterized by the functional flow of the search itself. The world becomes garishly bright, and streams of images, photos and information in an endless stream flow into it, ultra-visible and uninterrupted, which illuminate even the catastrophe, the crime and the obscene and at the same time re-construct them. The visual stimulation, due to the dominance of the garish in the digital pulp, is like a white wall, against which bumping the head is useless because it wouldn’t even leave a bump.
The 24/7 system of capital, like a perfectly oiled treadmill, continuously generates asocial models of automated functioning – it makes the mega-motor of super-capital, the abstract principle of the multiplication of money for the sake of multiplication, run hot and incessantly drives forward the calculation, quantification and exploitation of the living and the dead with a variety of processes, in which, however, often enough it remains unrecognisable at whose expense the ongoing hustle and bustle goes and who profits from it.
This 24/7 time differs greatly from the time of the 20th century, which Marxists such as Georg Lukács have characterized as the linear, empty, uniform time of capital, insofar as the 24/7 time of the 21st century as a swirling stream inscribes an a-linear and non-chronological time of speculation, which mixes past, present and future, but nevertheless relentlessly relies on acceleration and on the elimination of unproductive vacancies in work and everyday life. In this process, the speed of circulation is what counts most. Today, everything is absorbed by circulation and no one may refuse circulation, everything circulates unceasingly and no one can escape the power of circulation cycles. “Circulation is the first totality among economic categories,” Marx writes in the floor plans. Circulation is a category that Marx uses to analyze capital more as a process than as a relationship. Marx’s analysis of circulation poses a challenge insofar as we are also dealing with the polysemy of circulation as a concept. The forms of value and abstract work are based on production oriented towards circulation.
This is what we are dealing with today: pure 24/7 circulation as a condition and as a product of the virtual-financial capital model of the circulation of cycles. Cycles of production, cycles of consumption, cycles of exchange and cycles of distribution, all interlinked and overlapping. In the mode of quantum uncertainty, the cycles of circulation combine with the multiple circulation of cycles, and this must be the case because the stocks of goods and capital themselves must constantly be recoded, recombined, replicated and cloned. In circulation something flows out and comes in again, over and over again, that is, it is a continuum, and thus it is both inside and outside at the same time. It is a multiple folded system with relative inner and outer states without absolute exclusions and inclusions, rather both are folds of the same continuous process. Circulation not only reproduces a stream by means of a network of multiple folds, but lets them expand when they come together. It is the controlled reproduction and redirection of movement. Circulation is about size, liquidity, velocity and vectors. Even the non-circulation – in this case the money withdrawn from circulation in the short term (treasure) to act as credit – circulates on higher and higher ladders.1 ,.
The hunt for the ever circulating more, which arises from the capitalization of future payment flows and promises, opens up time flows in which the past, present and future no longer stand in any determined relation to one another, but are in a continuous state of movement, transformation and unfolding. Along this non-chronological speculative time2, in which past, present and future are open for constant re-organization, resetting or suspension, the channels for capitalization are created. The 24-hour stock market testifies to the triumph of streamed capital as that of expansion and acceleration over time. Over time, it is now as with all transit places – see shopping malls, airports, museums and sports arenas: It has become interchangeable in all its dimensions (past – present – future), no matter in which year, day or second you are. By becoming interchangeable, it is standardized and differentiated at the same time. The decisive aspect of the 24/7 metric, however, lies not in standardization/differentiation, but in the redundancy of an un-times in which there is no more opportunity not to shop, not to consume, not to work or not to retrieve any data. Nevertheless, the 24/7 metric does not hold a uniform time, but unfolds a reduced and polished diachrony in which the differences are reduced to exchangeable and circulating differences – interchangeability is the norm. This is how a shell-like, almost hallucinatory presence is staged – the sequence of smooth and lubricated operations as a special form of timelessness in which pauses, interruptions and rhythms that make the difference are eliminated. In this context it must be pointed out that the calendar and the times inscribed in it continue to exist, but their recognizability and meaning is superimposed by the indifference of the 24/7 metric.
“Disconnection” now definitely means social death, while at the same time wireless technologies in real time extinguish precisely the peculiarities and singularities of places, landscapes, times and events. On the mobile phone, the landscape disappears, not only its reliefs, rocks, plants or rivers disappear, but also the skies with their changing weather, light and darkness, the cold and heat flows. And yet there is a pull that forces one to continuously chase after the needs and desires generated by marketing in the digital network and in the analogue world, desires that must also remain unfulfilled because new products, new apps, versions and upgrades are constantly appearing on the market, which not only stimulate and heat up desires, but at the same time constantly transform them and therefore leave them unfulfilled. The 24/7 metric by no means creates manipulated consumers, but by staging differences as a result of the constantly changing range of goods on offer, which ultimately equals radical indifference to things, the differences that really make the difference are honed and the consumers are leveled in their behavior, the spectrum of their behaviors, experiences and events tended to be reduced to zero. Zero intensity.
This 24/7 time even sleep is an abomination. Jonathan Cray writes: “A radiant 24/7 world that casts no shadow is the capitalist end-time vision of a posthistoire, an expulsion of alterity as the engine of historical change. 24/7 is a time of indifference to which the fragility of human life becomes increasingly inadequate, a time when sleep is no longer necessary or even inevitable. It makes the idea of working without a break, without an end seem plausible, even normal. Thus it connects with the inanimate, inert or ageless.”
For Cray, it is only sleep in its pure uselessness that collides with the beats, metrics and demands of the 24/7 world of super-capital, which largely frees him from the attacks of companies and the needs they generate; it is the uncompromising interruption of time incessantly stolen from capital, while even the existential needs and desires – hunger, thirst, sex and friendship – are today monotonously charged with commodities and so terroristically capitalized that ultimately every gesture of the body is mercilessly transformed into a strengthening of the capitalist axiomatic. To put it briefly, sleep thwarts capitalization because it insists on a black time interval that cannot be exploited by capital and thus remains a bulky anomaly, even a potential trouble spot in the global presence of capital. However, and this is what we have to fight against Cray, the existence of sleep laboratories has long since transformed sleep through various methods that serve to make it more effective. Nevertheless, perhaps in its dream dimension it remains what Blanchot calls the improbable, or even a transcendental condition, a pure one-in-one that knows neither joy nor sadness, but only relentless sleep. It is the small object a of pleasure, the other of the 0+ of dreaming and the 0- of death.
Cray probably didn’t expect companies like Under Amour, whose mobile App Record is a control and monitoring center for human activities around the clock, to track and analyze a person’s fitness in broad daylight and sleep at night, and then sell the evaluated and modified data. It is no longer surprising that users voluntarily provide this data. For example, they are analyzed using the Watson AI platform, the results of which the company then uses to send feedback, create user profiles and create new behavior modification tools, which in turn are intended to generate quasi-programmed behavior, i.e. to trigger exactly the behavior predicted by the company for the user, which for example consists of buying the company’s physical products. Even the most intimate knowledge about the quality of one’s own sleep is fed into algorithmic machines as data to produce new predictive knowledge that supposedly improves the effectiveness of sleep. Also the sleep trackers on the smartphone, which indicate in the early morning whether one has slept well or badly, discipline sleep as far as possible, because sleep remains a contested territory. Scientific knowledge about sleep usually serves to make people fit for their job and their monetarized life, so that a kind of high-performance sleep is definitely desired – according to marketing, one sleeps well, slim and healthy. One sleeps under the condition of the readiness to perform for the job everyday life and for it one needs as much as possible deep sleep phases as well as the continuity, and these under the conditions of an optimal space climate. Even for the hours before sleep, the life guides have developed a canon of strict rules: No more screens before the night’s rest. Physical activity is good, avoid alcohol and heavy food as well as worries. Those who work 24-hour shifts in old people’s homes or hospitals, who clean the office buildings of large companies between twelve and eight in the morning or work through the nights in chemical plants, in food production or for security companies must minimise their need for sleep and breastfeed during the day or at the weekend. More than a third of shift workers sleep less than five hours, according to a study by Techniker Krankenkasse.
In this context, Cray points out that today the number of people (and this does not only affect day traders) who get up at night to check mails, social media platforms and information on the Internet or to visit the refrigerator to eat something is rising sharply. Such an interrupted sleep mode, one thinks of the Lenin sleep of the bankers, reduces sleep to an inferior state, because in the end it only determines it to the restoration of the functionality and availability of man for work and capital. Cray writes about the 24/7 clock: “It displaces the “on/off” principle. Nothing is really “off” anymore. Never is there a real sleep mode.” Today there is a constant shortage or shortening of sleep and at the same time there are notorious sleep disturbances, so that in this case one is forced to buy sleep time by taking sleeping pills. And for the success of the enterprise, in which one works straight, one has again and again once an idea in the head, also at night, one is so to speak around the clock in the service and if straight no firm manager is available for the control, then one controls evenly itself.
In this time of endless presence, not only the past, present and future blur, but also production, distribution and consumption in rapidly circulating cycles. At first glance, capital seems to lack nothing, neither in work nor in consumption, if one simply defines labor as unskilled labor and consumption as cerebral Perception of a liquid television or a digital microcircuit that records multiple desires, signs and energy understands. Only the more, the added value is still lacking in the long run. The oh so reflexive consumption of the middle classes today generates the toxic and often exhaustive consumption of gadgets, devices, apps, pictures, chemicals, etc., goods that are permanently transformed and offered anew by the large Silicon Valley corporations in order to be immediately commented on on the corresponding media markets and platforms. You consume all this very frequently on your smartphone by constantly looking at the display, browsing, chatting, skipping, deleting, surfing and reading, and you always remain immersed in a passivity that online life burdens you with, while at the same time you are somehow active, i.e. somehow totally involved, a madness of the highest degree. One lives in the spirit worlds of hedonistic digital machines and promiscuous digital contacts. Decisive for the 24/7 clock, which in its ultra-fast narrow-gauge elegance leads to the disruption, liquefaction and flexibilisation of everyday life, is no longer the accumulation of things by the subjects, but the expanding and paradoxically differential-uniform flow of employment and consumption of mostly digital offers, which is characterized by the increasing loss of breaks and interruptions and a shrill short-term nature of activities. Virilio’s rapid standstill. The metric of 24/7 induces a time without time, an un-time that creeps along without any drama, without events or differentiating repetitions that could remain in one’s memory, or, if one is tied up in time-intensive projects and jobs, races along under the compulsion of working oneself to pieces – at any rate, it is a kind of timelessness or the endless expansion of a flat, stretching and terrible present.
And each commodity is integrated as a potential disposable product in the variable 24/7 time suction. Thus the touch screens of smartphones will disappear and make way for gesture-controlled computers – these products will be celebrated as a “revolution”, on which one can rely, a part of the non-stop innovation of capital that can be disposed of as quickly as possible.3 The digital devices not only require a repetitive replacement mode, but they also appear attractive as novelties precisely when they offer choices, i.e. a mode for generating optionality, which is copied directly from the financial industry, as on the endless tape.
The material utility value of a commodity is of interest to the capitalist only as a carrier of added value. For this reason, the products should quickly become obsolete or unusable and replaced by moral wear and tear or by the planned obsolescence so that new products can be produced and demand for them generated. The car industry is constantly throwing new models onto the market, Apple laptops can no longer be repaired, and the iPhone from the year before last is close to ridicule.
Pierre Klossowski, in his book Die lebende Münze, described industrial production as the principle of a production-to-to-the-extem, which demands a consumption-to-to-the-extem, that is, mass production of products for short-term wear and tear, in order logically to accustom the consumer, who has to take up this short-termism, to losing the idea of a durable object altogether.4 The destruction of durability by machine innovation, by means of which not only machines but also consumer products are increasingly replaced by others, is thus already part of the industrial and serial mass production of Fordism. This reinforces the transience and the object and is intended to eliminate any thought of the durability of the objects, whereby these mutate into quasi-objects in their commodity finiteness, i.e. they have become calculable and quantifiable and can be exchanged at short notice and are thus null and void as objects. The objects mutate into non-things. They are nothing, or, in other words, every object is now potentially garbage, indeed the object is garbage. (Only the price keeps the object alive).
For Klossowski, one simply has to conclude, this means that garbage is not an unavoidable side effect of industrial production, but its main purpose, inasmuch as the manufactured industrial goods are subject to the growth compulsion of capital, which absolutely demands their rapid unsuitability and uselessness, their immediate consumption and disposal, so that one must come to the further conclusion that the real purpose of the goods is only to be garbage.
If the product is brand new or propagated as an unprecedented sensation, then in the optimal case the moment of the product’s appearance coincides with its disappearance, at least the product is exposed to a rapid decay process, because it can – mass-produced – only be the preliminary stage of an even newer product.5 The product thus per se already bears the flaw or deficiency of the outdated and deficient in itself, its half-life tends towards zero. And garbage is therefore not only what is dumped on the world’s garbage dumps, but the huge range of goods on the shelves of supermarkets and in Amazon’s online shops; garbage is the coming object that is not even perceived as such. “Waste is the dark, shameful secret of any production. It should preferably remain a secret.” (Zygmunt Bauman, 2005. 42)
In order to understand the effects, the potentials and the dangers of digital offers (memes) today, one has to understand the dangerous power of quasi-objects, which are there only to circulate with increasing speed. This is about the rigorous transubstantiation of being into process and relation. Thus even the most everyday things threaten to be exposed to rapid decay because of their short-term nature, although we remain trapped in the worst habits, because we find no time for decisions if we pant after the very new. Every purchase made tends to be a defeat, every decision made a decision for the garbage.6 In this accelerating continuum of garbage through the circulation of quasi-objects, the phases of discernment, interruption and reflection are to be further reduced, corresponding to an increasing control and appropriation of lived time. Horizontal communication and vertical control. Even if there may not be a strict separation, a conceptual distinction between excess and superfluous is necessary. If abundance is wealth, superfluous evokes waste. Excess allows decisions and negentroy, excess causes garbage. Goods that have been produced and circulated, but are never consumed, are increasing.7 In, “In rich countries today a quarter of edible food is thrown away” (p. 873)- It is not the product residue that is garbage, but the product itself. From now on, two types of wasted utility values are to be distinguished. The question is: Is a product liquidated before circulation (case one) or disposed of before consumption (case two)? This already makes a difference: both times are not consumed. Both times the products spoil, in the first case in order to minimize the impending disposal, in the second case without even diminishing the profit. Here the exchange value is realized, only the utility value is obsolete. Economically it does not matter for the time being whether the product sold is consumed or not.
If the Sharing Economy in particular does not require us to rethink at this point, we will be asking a lot of questions. But perhaps it looks quite different, because with the Sharing Economy the subalterns still manage to turn a guest room or an unused room in their apartment into a source of income. As much as possible, even the recyclable waste, should serve as a source of income from now on, and this even refers to what has not yet been produced. Only when a thing has long been dead does it really come into fashion and is then sold as a trend-setting contemporary singularity, which indicates that the retro industry has long since become the standard in the cultural sphere, especially in an age that relies on the marketing of goods with a view to the future. In the search for the original and unique, the difference between the historical and the contemporary is permanently blurred, so that in the end only the terrible and tasteless recombination of goods, signs and styles remains. If in this sense every product is retro, nothing is retro anymore and time becomes white. And so you polish up even ordinary industrial products like jeans with almost lively-struggling traces of use, which are supposed to show the heroic nature of the work, and any other historical details, and even the industrially produced cake supposedly tastes like the cake in grandma’s times. The circulation of hybrid goods today always amounts to the same thing, inasmuch as the narrative added to them, which talks of their authenticity or singularity, veils precisely what they are in reality most of the time, namely serially produced disposable product.
The reason for this is to be resold on Ebay immediately after the purchase or to be thrown into the garbage. They can also be individually produced objects and accessories, which, if they are given a fictitious value and collected in the apartment, for example, create a touch of atmosphere, a light cloud that passes by and disappears into nowhere.
The 24/7 model of a panicked consumption in the wake of a “waste” of goods, which are mainly only constantly varied in their design, without a real novelty coming about, a model that also sets the individual expenditure purely for the purpose of increasing oneself (the same), is the caricature of a transgression and that waste that Bataille has propagated as a general economic model against the (re)productive recycling capital. The surprise is not that the uncertainty of what comes next remains present in this type of commodity production, but that hardly anyone realizes that ultimately it is the intrusive repetition of the same by means of minimal differentiation, so that, apart from exceptions, it is always the same companies and chains that attract a large part of the solvent demand. The loss of durability today leads to a tendency for the symbolic and cultural distinguishing features that distinguish luxury goods from cheap goods to deteriorate. Speculation, which is constitutive for capital today, as we have already demonstrated in various places, does not change this either; it takes place increasingly on the art markets, but also there not primarily from the point of view of the culturalization of art objects, but rather of their unambiguous monetarization, whereby visibility also falls by the wayside when billionaires do not offer their purchased art objects to the public for viewing, but deny it in heavily protected bunkers.
It is precisely the digital devices that today take their place as constant companions of the human being, they demand in the sense of surveillance capital almost eagerly for permanent human-machine communication, and they are therefore best attached directly to the body, such as the smartphone, or stuck to the eyes as digital glasses. The devices constantly demand to be operated, and therefore they have to provide a multitude of options and operating possibilities that make continuous navigation in digital space necessary, even attractive and at the same time nerve-racking and restless in a positive sense. However, this kind of restless optionality does not lead to the consumer’s freedom, but to his constant attempts to make the adjustments and adaptations to the functional requirements and operating instructions of the technical devices, which offer a diversification of the processes, almost with furor, which the consumers also actively promote with their comments on the Internet, but without in the least feeling that they themselves remain an application of the 24/7 clock and its control systems. From this point of view, the utility value of digital devices demands modular and efficient operation, navigation of their functions and states, which are constantly being modulated – the consumer himself is something like the operation that has come to life. However, not only are old products constantly being replaced by new ones, but the consumption of the new products is a real challenge to the ongoing occupation with them. And in consumption, the need for possession of the product and the affirmation of its replaceability constantly come into conflict with each other, and yet it is necessary to recognize the digital incentives quickly in order to latch into the chain of constantly hot pre-set promises that promise at least improved functionality in the application of the product, even if ultimately no benefit can be achieved for the user when using the devices. This requires a consumer who fits the thoroughly variable conformity like a tailor-made suit and who follows the behavioral predictions of artificial machines, which anticipate if possible a behavior of the consumer that reliably leads to the “desired commercial results” (Zuboff 235). The consumer is thus definitely the rat in the Skinner box by being subjected to a consumption conditioning that is not only identical to the cycles of the technical products, but above all is supposed to generate profits for the monitoring capital. The aim is not only to shorten the time it takes for consumers to make decisions when operating digital devices, but also to automate them completely, so that it is no longer even necessary to know that every new product introduced is a part of the product.
The permanent mode of “as-if”, which the smartphone, for example, provides, makes the mind function implode with its regulative capacity onto a fatal residue and sticks it as a necessary detail to the data, image and information circulation of the devices. Adorno already had a nasty presentiment in this respect: “The starting point is the consumers’ weak memory: no one is believed to remember anything, to concentrate on anything other than what is offered to him at the moment. He is reduced to the abstract present. But the more narrow-minded the moment has to stand up for itself, the less it may be charged with misfortune.” Nothing else means the end of history on the level of the subject.
For the shamelessly dissatisfied and at the same time infant-grotesque-enjoyed, the digital devices including their gadgets and apps seem to set the pace, as they are short-termed disposable products that are subject to constant exchange, one thinks of today’s hyper-presence touchscreen-controlled devices, which will probably soon be replaced by computers that react to a wink, blink or throat, in order to continue the non-stop operation of consumption in an accelerated manner. The intelligence machines of the surveillance capital are constantly adapting the countless apps (over 300 for Google’s Android platform) about weather, dating, music, health, etc. and infecting them with a large number of trackers to extract personal data, create algorithmic profiles and make money with targeted advertising.
If they do enough information work for you, the digital devices may even be a friendly companion; on the other hand, they simultaneously take on the function of a relentless control authority, for example when they measure all possible indicators of a user’s current body condition, in order to then, for example, issue imperatives for the user’s sporting behaviour or eating habits. Rather, they are an expropriation instance that, whether as a smartphone or laptop, penetrates into an unprotected private space and extracts data about human behavior, and this happens not only in digital space, but also through monitoring in the real world, for example when one is guided along certain routes during one’s excursions in the city, whereby Google quietly and unnoticed transforms its role as advisor into that of a gentle controller.8 If, for example, the user searches the Internet for a chair, as soon as he gets into a car, he is gently directed to the next furniture store, i.e. by means of so-called push technologies he is guided to a destination that he has not entered into any device. Even with the download of apps, the software is authorized to record and modify sensitive data, even to delete some of it; the status of the smartphone, location data and WLAN connections are recorded, cameras are activated and private archives with photos and videos are logged in. The extraction imperative of Google & Co demands that everything be taken over, whereby the surveillance capital in turn offers certain products and services only within its own supply routes and infrastructures. In order to do this, it is essential to acquire the data on the behaviour of users and to generate products which, in 24/7 mode, prescribe how the user has to interact with certain objects, for example with his car.
The postmodern consumer of the metropolises is a shapeless figure, on the one hand an asset that runs its business with an almost exaggerated entrepreneurial sense for consumerist resources in leisure time, on the other hand a passive, a statistically controlled conglomerate of key figures, ratings and indicators constructed on the basis of precise predictions of its behaviour, with which behaviours and services are constantly evaluated up to and including sex (exchange value). Singular and demanding, so the propagandists of the new middle class sound the trombone, it has to be, be it flirting in the digital partnership agency, eating the menu at the star chef, the exercises in the Thai Chi course, and the painting acquired from a scene gallery is of course the outperformer as the conversation with friends with red wine in the evening, and not to forget sex, a singularity performance sui generis. An incredible number of individuals today invoke the privilege of being singular, without usually knowing that they are claiming the status of functional psychopaths.
From this point of view, it seems quite normal for marketing agencies to constantly generate new semiotic vibrations for members of the middle class in order to generate something like an aesthetic of insecurity, which can provide consumers with an impulse to become psychopaths.
Think also of extreme sports, risk societies, financial derivatives, creative classes, porn stars, game cultures.9 The Internet, in which the binary code is transformed into sounds, texts and images, also offers the subclasses the possibility of transforming consumption into the mode of permanent experience, a peculiar addiction that is mobile and constantly to be mobilized through the smartphone and that depends on the presence and transformation of the offerings; it is the circulation that is now permanent, the cycles of zero-time circulation, which for the suppliers is spiral, namely the accumulation of capital, while the demanders do not get beyond the mode of permanent experience. It is therefore the Internet markets, in particular, that promote short-term consumption and short-term attention, for example the consumption of the You Tube clip, which is attractive for seconds, which appears today and disappears tomorrow again in the nirvana of the archives, while the long-term attractiveness for the few large corporations remains secured or is simply founded in the Internet Protocol, which provides the infrastructure for the circulation of attractive goods in the short term. The constant change in the product lines of the large digital corporations is forcing the short-term, while the identification with the brand must be maintained. Identity goods, which can be bought in the fan shops of football clubs, for example, are also permanently placed on the market, so that they can then be placed in the series of voluntarily synchronised events.
Ultimately, it seems impossible to escape the network paradigm of viral, epidemic and productive dissemination of information, even if one does not get anything back from the untiring digital activity that requires propaganda of the self and self-replication. It is not so much the question of whether the needs are satisfied by the use of digital devices or by the stay in social networks that is now the focus, but rather the 24/7 mode of speeds, metrics and accelerations that allows consumption and needs to circulate endlessly – it also punctures, controls and quantifies the perception, experience and ultimately the life of each individual. In the evening, one encounters the limits of the day and everything that does not end, and one becomes tired precisely when looking at one’s to-do list, which reproduces itself day after day like a dirty virus.
And the consumer paradoxically prefers to live the exhaustive way of short-lived life forever – he oscillates, as if in a frenzy, between the hot need to consume the object and the affirmation of its inevitable rapid replacement, and so to exhaustion he has to pant after the hot promises of the advertising industry in the flow of the monotonously and at the same time differentially flowing 24/7 clock, without realizing, however, that the attractive incentives and the improved functionalities of the devices are exactly identical with his confirmation that the ego is fulfilled in the technical application of the gadgets. Things that cannot be displayed and optimized via the display of the laptop or smartphone and its icons and links are undoubtedly losing their attractiveness today.
In addition, the 24/7 operation tickles out the addiction of individuals to competition, egoism, opportunism and ignorance towards others, whereby these needs are increasingly tied to and directed by platforms, models and programs by permanently recombining existing signs and objects and generally converting them into the form of remixes and mash-ups (recontextualization) – copies of copies, incessantly linked in the frenzy of pseudo-fashies, hits and stars. Consequently, today’s consumed products are increasingly devices that offer a wide range of services, entertainment and threads, with platforms using these devices in data-hungry mobility markets, for example, as can be seen in Over, which asks urban communities to share public transport data with the company so that over its vehicles can steer accurately and in real time towards congested roads, train and bus stops.
If today people feel that even these digital applications can’t irritate them anymore, and if in the age of online dating they are only happy for three months due to the algorithmization of mate choice (which is still class-specific love relationships), then no sexual or life guide and no digitized lifestyle concept can help any more, but at least people can at Proust or Balzac in love and merchandise, what they missed. But because they don’t do that either, they continue to hang on to the drip that injects them with insistence on the contemporary, on the precise experience and symbolic value of the goods, with which, despite the confusion and almost hysterical insistence on the uniqueness of the events, services or goods that are consumed continuously and at the same time as quickly as possible, the present appears to be eternally extended or stretches like very slowly melting cheese. This is not surprising, because the creative industries, in which parts of the middle class gather – IT industry, media, design, marketing, games, wellness, tourism and sport – make offers around the clock, with which one tests the self-realization claims of a special part of the middle class. In particular, it is the members of a global, virtual class who live networked, liquid and connected in the new technical laboratories and offices, a special class of the digital-financial central nervous system of capital.
Video and gambling games, Internet pornos and all types of games liquefy and intensify 24/7 consumption, whereby the profit, power and possession illusions built into it are constantly disappointed for most people, so that it is precisely for this reason that the consumption of electronic stimuli often enough has to be stimulated further with the consumption of psychotropic drugs or, alternatively, the nervousness generated by the incentive systems of digital marketing has to be at least temporarily calmed down if the battered consumer does not want to go completely insane. Wolfgang Pohrt describes such consumers as embittered hedonists: “In so far as late capitalism makes the infantile type, because it is held in childlike dependence and powerlessness and makes it the dominant social character […], by the way, not even the elementary prerequisites for immediate enjoyment are given, because one must first have a decided wish in order to be able to fulfil it. Analogous to spoiled, faulty children, whose misfortune consists in eating and playing whipped cream with chips at the same time and not actually wanting any of them, adults today usually do not suffer from unfulfillable longing – a suffering which also has its advantages – but from a kind of unhappiness without desire, which turns into the insatiable greed, which never finds fulfillment, to have everything and to want to throw it away again immediately. While the propagandists of a New Hedonism believe to recognize unbroken enjoyment of pleasure in the behavior especially of the German middle class, which one could understand as a huge self-help group, which is as dogged as it is in vain endeavored to do good, be it by Beautiful Living, Noble Drinking or Healthier Eating, while the propagandists of a New Hedonism thus believe to recognize indicators of unbroken enjoyment of pleasure in all these activities, they overlook the fact that the restless, compulsive, stressful and almost full-time search for enjoyment is the behavior of people who cannot find it anywhere, of people too, whose insatiable greed and eternal frustration dig into their facial features at some point and who therefore do not look full, satisfied and happy, but hard, envious, lurking and bitter.« This development is driven by the fact that the imaginary value of leisure time continues to rise, while at the same time many leisure activities are simply redefined as work. Tiqqun write: “What MAN calls work today, MAN rated as leisure yesterday – ‘video game testers’ are paid to play all day long, ‘artists’ to be the clowns of the public; a growing mass of incompetents, calling MAN psychoanalysts, fortune tellers, coaches or just psychologists, are paid fat for listening to each other’s laments …”. In short, work and leisure give each other their hands, regardless of whether the initiative comes from one side or the other.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Foto: Stefan Paulus