“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).