Spectacular moments of commodity society

Spectacular moments of commodity society
SHARE
THIS



To be fair I don't know that much about modern Hungarian Marxist philosophy.

But I know what I like (bourgeois humour). So, I like what I know.

My route in has been through bits of György Lukács. Lukács is credited as the author of the idea of reification.

For Luk√°cs reification literally translates as the 'objectification'- or 'thing-ification' if you prefer – of social life or social relationships and their subsequently re-expression as relationships between objects rather than people, as characterised by many aspects of what we would describe as 'consumer' culture.

In simple terms, Luk√°cs is describing a process by which the previously 'authentic' experience is transformed and then rendered 'inauthentic' by its incorporation into the totality (the all-pervasive supremacy of the whole over the parts) resulting in alienation.

One of the most quoted descriptions of this kind of alienation is in this passage from Don Delillo’s 1985 novel ‘White Noise’.

White Noise* is widely regarded as a case-in-point post-modern work – if you are familiar with the work then you will appreciate the irony in the knowledge that novelty pseudo-academic intellectualism being a key theme is not lost on this writer 😉

*In a detournement footnote, apparently DeLillo originally wanted to title the book ‘Panasonic’, but the Panasonic Corporation injuncted. Fact fans.

The characters, Jack and Babette Gladney return home from a trip to the supermarket:

'It seemed to me that Babette and I, in the mass and variety of our purchases, in the sheer plenitude those crowded bags suggested, the weight and size and number, the familiar designs and vivid lettering, the giant sizes, the family bargain packs with Day-Glo sale stickers, in the sense of replenishment we felt, the sense of well-being, the security and contentment these products brought to some snug home in our souls – it seemed we had achieved a fullness of being that is not known to people who need less, expect less, who plan their lives around lonely walks in the evening.'

(*Prole note: Upon reading I understood this implicitly and instantly as being the same idea as ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ by the Clash)

The most striking contemporary example of this kind of reification is, of course, Facebook.

And in particular the the notion of Facebook 'friends'.

In which the idea of 'friendship' – an aspect of authentic social life and social relationships – that has, in effect, been 'objectified' and indeed commodified by Facebook.

Indeed, within Facebook we even refer of ourselves in the third person. Eaon shared person x's photo and so on.

The 'friend' product is, of course, at the core of Facebook's business model and monetisation strategy.

We will all be familiar by now with the point that; in the Facebook environment it is the user (or 'friend') that is the product for sale.

Facebook sells the product (and its data by-products) to advertisers, and then re-packages it up and then sells it back to us as the social experience.

The cycle is complete – and gets completely spectacular – when we understand that this idea of the Facebook friend is not only reduced to reified commodity but is also now increasingly becoming the way we understand the nature of authentic friendship, to a degree.

Whereas that fact might have been spectacular enough in 2011, today we can see other 'possibilities' around further objectification afforded by the next wave of mass media technologies.

In particular the likes of Google Glass and other augmented reality technologies. 

But first, keen eyed readers will note that I've semi-referenced Debord's ‘Society of The Spectacle’ in this note.

Among the many descriptions of the Spectacle the following is perhaps the most key to this discussion.

'The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification.

As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges.

Being isolated and precisely for that reason this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation.

The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.'

Obviously my novelty pseudo-academic intellectualism finds the synonym connecting The Spec-tacle and then Google Glass, the almost uber-mediator of social relationship by images, ironic and funny.

Let's read that again.

'The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification'.

That Facebook/Spectacle analogy is one I picked up from journalist John Harris <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/30/guy-debord-society-spectacle> who also notes:

'[Debord] is talking about alienation, the commodification of almost every aspect of life and the profound social sea-change whereby any notion of the authentic becomes almost impossible'.

To end this note, perhaps the inevitability of Google Glass – and augmented reality as a mass media proposition (ie spectacle) – is one in which it usurps (or indeed incorporates) Facebook as 'the invasive force of the 'spectacle'.

There is the possibility that Google Glass actually takes the idea of the Spectacle as ‘social relation between people mediated by images’ to new levels of alienation in the guise of authentic social life.

Both Luk√°cs and Debord would possibly note that these new social(sic) technologies that are presented and accepted as a social innovations that allow the users to better participate in the world, are just as easily described as reification mechanisms designed to reinforce the spectacle of pseudo-communication producing not connection but only further alienation.

To be continued…

(I imagine my membership to social media club is being rebuked as we speak).

Eaon Pritchard is head of strategy at Sputnik Agency Australia

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Former Google Exec Joins HubSpot As APAC Managing Director
  • Technology

Former Google Exec Joins HubSpot As APAC Managing Director

HubSpot has appointed Ex-Googler Shahid Nizami as MD of the Asia Pacific region. In his new role, Shahid will be responsible for HubSpot’s performance across Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and India and will be based in HubSpot’s Singapore office, working closely with the teams based in both Singapore and Sydney. Before joining HubSpot, Nizami led the […]

Opinion

by HubSpot Australia

HubSpot Australia
Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team
  • Media

Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team

Judging by the image, it seems Red Agency may have had no staff whatsoever prior to this hiring spree.

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey
  • Media

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey

B&T's editor coincidentally spilled honey on his shirt while typing this. And by typing, we mean copy and pasting.

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less   
  • Advertising
  • Media

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less  

Y&R wins Best&Less amid rumours the clothing shop its changing name to 'Somewhat OK&Reasonably cheap'.

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay

B&T's Women in Media profiles are like a wave washing over you. Even more so if an actual wave washes over you.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)

In this opinion piece, SalesPreso co-founder and CMO Joel Thomson (pictured below) explains how B2B companies can use their data more effectively and deliver a personalised customer experience that matches their B2C counterparts. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the EU’s recent GDPR legislation, this year has prompted individuals all over the world to consider […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio

Not one to rest on its laurels, M&C Saatchi unveils new production studio it hasn't called 'Not One To Rest On Laurels'.

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’

Yesterday at TedX Melbourne the team behind award-winning, Melbourne-based agency Your Creative launched their new tech venture Hassl, the project management platform taking on Trello and the likes. With the belief there was a better design solution to project management, the platform has been developed over the last two years in collaboration with their clients. […]

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly
  • Media

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly

It's one of the ABC's edgier, controversial shows, but Tom Ballard's proven too edgy and controversial for ABC chiefs.

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership
  • Advertising
  • Media

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership

Global discovery platform Taboola has announced a strategic partnership with Wider Planet, Korea’s largest demand-side and data management platform. The partnership builds on Taboola’s programmatic efforts in Asia-Pacific, and will bring together Korea’s largest demand platform for agencies and brands to provide access to Taboola’s global audience through premium publisher placements. The partnership means advertisers […]

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients
  • Marketing

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients

The Haus announces two new client wins. Admittedly, not as good as winning three, but far better than losing four.

businessman using tablet PC and information communication technology concept. IoT(Internet of Things). GUI(graphical user interface). paperless office.
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Smartly: The Future Of Martech Is Automated

Automated ad buying platform, Smartly was at the centre of the tech innovation stage at the Online Retailer conference 2018. Smartly head of ANZ Marta Bonzanini (pictured below) discussed the integral role automation plays in the future of marketers and creatives. “If an ad is not performing as well as planned, you probably have some […]

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games
  • Technology

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games

For the moments when we can’t be together IRL, Messenger video chat helps you connect in real-time with the people you care about most. Chatting face-to-face live makes all the difference when you have exciting news to share, you need a study buddy for a big test, or you simply want to pass the time […]

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo
  • Media

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo

Sphere snares Stockdale & Leggo business, which is a real estate group & not a simmer sauce as first reported on B&T.

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation
  • Technology

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation

With Aussie farmers facing so many challenges, could the answer be Blockchain technology? Ranking top 10 at this year’s Overseas Talent Entrepreneurial Conference (OTEC), pitching against 32 other start-ups from around the world, Aussie start-up Agunity are leading AgTech innovation. Having won the right to represent Australia during Investible’s nation-wide pitch competition, AgUnity took to […]

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci

Facebook's Carolyn Bollaci is the latest to sup at B&T's truth serum we prefer to call our Women in Media profiles.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Vic Govt Unveils ‘Tafe + Jobs’ Via Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Vic Govt Unveils ‘Tafe + Jobs’ Via Fuel Agency

The Fuel Agency has launched the new ‘TAFE + Jobs’ campaign, aimed to promote and drive applications and enrolments for courses starting in 2019 There’s a lot happening in Victoria, with record investment in road and rail projects, and in the health, community and disability sectors. As a result, there’s greater demand for skilled workers. […]

Rakuten Marketing Appoints New CEO
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Rakuten Marketing Appoints New CEO

Rakuten has a new CEO. However, judging by the tired handshake photo, B&T doesn't have any new ways of illustrating it.

Why Consumers Block Your Advertising
  • Advertising
  • Opinion

Why Consumers Block Your Advertising

Who better to explain why your ads are getting blocked than a real ad blocking expert. As B&T has done right here.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine