Queuing and Democracy

This is from 24/7 by Jonathan Crary:

“The forms of control accompanying the rise of neoliberalism in the 1990s were more invasive in their subjective effects and in their devastating of shared and collectively supported relations. 24/7 presents the delusion of a time without waiting, or an on-demand instantaneity, of having and getting insulated from the presence of others. The responsibility for other people that proximity entails can now easily be bypassed by the electronic management of one’s daily routines and contacts.

Perhaps more importantly, 24/7 has produced an atrophy of the individual patience to listen to others, to wait one’s turn to speak. The phenomenon of blogging is one example – among many – of the triumph of a one-way model of auto-chattering in which the possibility of ever having to wait and listen to someone else has been eliminated. Blogging, no matter what its intentions, is thus one of he many announcements of the end of politics.

The waiting that one actually does now – in traffic jams or airport lines – acts to intensify resentment and competitiveness with those nearby. One of the superficial but piercing truisms about class society is that the rich never have to wait, and this feeds the desire to emulate wherever possible this particular privilege of the elite. “

I think he makes some very good points, but he is, throughout the book talking about people in big cities, which does not refer to the rest of us. Most people have lives beyond the internet, and even the obsessive use of media by teens is at least in part just what being a teen is – to be obsessive, silly and well, just being themselves before the real world takes them over. I think he also needs to be looking to the demise of families dining together for socialising, learning how to converse etc. But of course that takes us back to watching tv whilst eating, so I guess it is also media linked.

2 thoughts on “Queuing and Democracy

  1. This is an interesting perspective. I never tied the incessant and ever-present nature of technology and media to the eroding of politics but you make some strong points. We are collectively becoming less patient. Good article!



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