The Price of Connection

“Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.”

— Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, p. 68.

This quotation ought to have been an additional epigraph to my book Connected; but I forgot about it until now. “Forgot about it” means, of course, that I used it and incorporated it without being consciously aware of doing so. Connected is a book about how being connected (as “we” — the affluent portion of humankind — are increasingly being connected on the Internet, and as all human beings today are increasingly being connected by the globalized economic transactions of the “network society”) involves being in thrall to the powers of transnational Capital. I wrote about how this oppression, or enslavement, extends into our very bodies — “eyes and ears and nerves” — literally and physiologically, as well as metaphorically. And among the horrific examples of this enslavement I included vignettes on the privatization of free speech (taken from actual news stories) and even on the privatization of the atmosphere, so that we would have to pay in order to breathe (taken from the musings of a free-market economist, who recommended it as a cost-effective way to cut down on air pollution).

2 Responses to “The Price of Connection”

  1. chuk says:

    that’s funny, i thought being connected just seemed bad at first but was really pretty liveable. (a private company controlling language sounds like a relief honestly)

    but my impression is maybe also a reaction to the cover which at first really had me but then later seemed lame and overstated like, “on the internet no one can hear you scream!!!! Muuaachachachacha!!”

    well anyway thats something nice about connected, doom patrols, and stranded is that they specify an ambiguity rather than kill everything in the way in the name of a thesis.

  2. David Daratony says:

    Is there a purgatory between being connected and not being seduced? I haven’t read your book yet; it sounds like something I would enjoy.

    Most people have given up on searching for answers in the name of being either/or; not add/both. So my sincere question is: is resistance to seduction worth the solitude you pay for knowing the puppeteer is always lingering around the corner ready to sell you nerve medications, advertisements for political hegemony, and the fervent idea that you must keep up with the Jones’ in order to live?

    I’m prone to say, “yes.” If there is someone willing to disconnect with you. Detroit, especially here in Midtown, is a great place to do that.

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