The blog. We think of it, the institution, as a means of getting new and needed voices into the public. It gives many the feeling of personal expression and usefulness. No one stands in the way of everyone with a little time, a computer, and a few thoughts rolling around in the noggin.
Expression is everywhere. We are inundated in it, literally afloat in a sea of randomness that is as comforting as it is scary and threatening. The blog, as an internet phenomenon, is the changer of the mechanisms of change. Communication technologies (their forms, uses, and expressions) change culture and economy, which then influence morals and the positions of god and human in the universe.
The reflexive nature of this “back, forth, sideways, up, and down” seems to hide the contradictions of it. Rank reaction and anti-progressive fear of evolving culture fills the blogosphog. (A “sphere” has far too much definition to describe the blog phenom.) Like the televangelist and AM radio talking head, reactionaries make use of this modern mechanism of change to decry the changes brought about by these most modern of technologies.
The irony of engaging the very technologies altering culture, economy, politics, and society to stop those changes gets lost on most people. At the same time, what used to be non-capital space—that is, places in our time and lives that was not open for economic exchange—has now been commodified. Our formerly personal spaces are bought, sold, and profited from.
If you disagree, imagine the absolute value of leisure. Multiply by 300 million (just in the US) your own use of the cell phone, computer, radio, television, and costs of leisure on weekends, vacations, and holidays, as well as games, books, and fashion, entertainment, and gossip magazines. Then, if you think that the blog is “free,” go back to the internet bills—cable, dialup, DSL, ISDN, etc.
Then, to think that the blog is free because access to it seems free, blog hosters are tallying key words, ages, genders, ages, and sexual orientation. They seek to know consumer choices, what people are talking about and how they talk about it. They want to know what your politics are.
In turn, the information about the person, that information that was once possessed wholly by you or me, becomes a series of numbers and actuarial tables that then gain a market value and are bought, sold, and traded. Capitalism has invaded the very creases in the corners of the human soul.
Andre Codrescu wrote in The Disappearance of the Outside that our reality is constantly manufactured. The interactive globe we once dreamed of, and that the internet promised, increasingly dominates the gray regions where human creativity once lurked. Image and word become one, and we get caught up with ourselves in a doublespeak that masks the ways in which the means of cultural and social production floats ever farther from our grasp.
The strictures of the internet are increasingly hidden. The seeming freedom of expression afforded by pure binary space is, in fact, an illusion. We forget that the networks, radio waves, the ways in which we act and interact in this space are strictly controlled, manipulated, accounted, actuaried, and bought and sold.
In short, these new spaces where we seem so free serve as a means of increasing capital opportunity at the expense of creativity. With every move, every “free” act, we are essentially being turned into ciphers into which capitalism pours its trash in.
The only way out, I think, is to realize that all is not what it seems. The blog merely becomes another way to box, package, and sell you and me, much in the way that slaves were traded and their value lie in what they could accomplish over their lifetimes. To buy a slave was to make an investment. Now, however, we willingly become slaves to machinery and people that are at once in and out of our control.
In thinking we have something free from the surveillance of corporations, entrepreneurs, and plain old merchant bourgeois is to accept the delusion that we do what we want, express what we want, and are the individuals that we want.
So, how do you and I free ourselves from the machinery and the people? Resistance, plain and simple. To know and understand the fundamentals of the illusion is the beginning of resistance. From there, it’s up to you and I how much we participate in our own oppression.