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

Pac Mags’ Emily Sak Joins Shopper Media Group As Its First Data & Insights Chief
  • Marketing
  • Media

Pac Mags’ Emily Sak Joins Shopper Media Group As Its First Data & Insights Chief

Digital retail out-of-home media business Shopper Media Group has announced the appointment of Emily Sak to the newly created position of head of data and insights. The new role forms part of Shopper Media Group’s expansion plan to keep up with the accelerated growth that has seen its portfolio surpass more than 220 shopping centres […]

CX Lavender Appoints Business Development Director For Melbourne
  • Marketing

CX Lavender Appoints Business Development Director For Melbourne

Customer experience agency CX Lavender has announced the appointment of Michael Rummery to the role of business development director for Melbourne. Rummery (pictured above) was previously account director of client services at global marketing and digital recruitment firm Aquent, and has held roles at a number of talent agents and recruitment firms with a focus […]

The New York Times Appoints WeThinkMedia As Its Aussie Advertising Rep
  • Advertising
  • Media

The New York Times Appoints WeThinkMedia As Its Aussie Advertising Rep

The New York Times Company has announced the appointment of media representation agency WeThinkMedia to represent its advertising business in Australia. WeThinkMedia will be responsible for all advertising in the region, including print, digital, branded content, programmatic, and events. The partnership will be overseen by Tom Armstrong, vice president of advertising for The New York […]

The Future Of Influencer Marketing: More Than Just A One-Night Stand
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

The Future Of Influencer Marketing: More Than Just A One-Night Stand

Influencers are the new powerhouses in driving stock off shelves, but brands are yet to find the right recipe for successful collaboration, according to Gleam Futures’ Guillaume Deront (pictured below). Here, she argues that marketers need to look beyond purely targeting an audience and channel their energy towards building long-term collaborative relationships. Australia punches above […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Designing Cultural And Organisational Change
  • Opinion

Designing Cultural And Organisational Change

In this guest post, Bronwyn Van Der Merwe (pictured below), managing director of Fjord Australia and New Zealand (part of Accenture Interactive), details the four traits of a ‘living business’ – something she believes organisations have to become in order to transform successfully. The digital age has created a plethora of challenges for modern organisations, […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Media

Free TV Calls For ACCC Oversight Of Facebook & Google

In a submission lodged with the ACCC inquiry into digital platforms, industry body Free TV today called for greater regulatory oversight of Facebook and Google. The FreeTV submission identifies a number of key areas of concern: Heavy regulation on traditional media providers and almost none on Facebook and Google Questionable claims about the reach, viewability, […]

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts
  • Media

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts

APN Outdoor has used its annual general meeting to announce three key contract renewals: Transport for Brisbane, Transdev Melbourne and Adelaide & Parafield Airports, for multiple years. Company CEO and managing director, James Warburton, said: “These contracts represent an important part of our advertising offering. The far-reaching impact they provide delivers a compelling proposition and cements our commitment […]

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren

It's the latest in our Women In Media profiles, and this one is so good you'll possibly get a nervous twitch somewhere.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers
  • Marketing
  • Media

LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers

M&C Saatchi Group’s customer engagement specialist agency, LIDA, has crafted an initial eight-episode series of bite-sized animated videos designed to help busy marketers stay ahead of the game. ‘60 Second Gets’ draws on LIDA’s wealth of experience to unpack the latest industry tools, tech and thinking. Launching today, the first video, ‘Success in 6 Seconds’, […]

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking
  • Campaigns

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking

Today Naked launches its ‘Start Talking’ campaign for Gidget Foundation Australia; a not-for-profit that provides support for families who are affected by perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA). The centrepiece of the campaign is a powerful TVC that brings to life this common, but often hidden illness, and shows how Gidget Foundation’s ‘Start Talking’ telehealth program […]

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums
  • Marketing
  • Technology

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums

For the first time ever, AFL spectators will be able to view real-time Telstra Tracker player data via in-stadium LED signage, thanks to the combined efforts of Telstra, Champion Data and MKTG. By integrating the Telstra Tracker data into the LED signage at the MCG and Etihad Stadium, fans will receive contextually relevant information from […]

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering
  • Marketing

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering

Scentre Group has unveiled a new brand look and feel coinciding with the re-launch of the Westfield.com.au and Westfield.co.nz sites. This digital-first visual identity sees a shift towards creating a more contemporary, invigorated and colourful brand, reflective of Westfield’s in-centre experience. The iconic Westfield logo will continue to lead brand communications, supported with a new […]

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year

In this guest post, Keep Left’s head of consumer engagement, Johanna Murray (pictured below), explains the merits of experiential marketing, as well as sharing some tips on how to do it – and do it well. Humans love to label things – especially intangible things, like time. We like eras and ages and eons because they […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018

This trends report is a must-read for all marketers, although it contains no news on the return of the bubble perm.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How To Give And Take Feedback At Work
  • Opinion

How To Give And Take Feedback At Work

Georgia Murch (pictured below) is an expert in creating feedback cultures and author of Feedback Flow; The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Embed Change in 90 Days. In this guest post, Murch offers her tips on giving (and receiving) feedback from colleagues without botching it up… We all know that feedback matters.  Most of us want the good, the bad and the […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney

Have you completely forgotten what Sydney looks like? Well, thankfully this story comes with a handy pictorial reminder.

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV
  • Media

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV

SBS Radio has announced two new digital radio stations – SBS PopAsia, SBS PopDesi and a refresh of SBS Radio 3 – is now available on digital TV. SBS Radio 3 will broadcast world news and current affairs from the BBC World Service (previously airing on SBS Radio 4 on digital radio) and special events […]

Aussies Invited To ‘Money With Sunny’ In New Suncorp Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Aussies Invited To ‘Money With Sunny’ In New Suncorp Campaign

At a time when more than two thirds of Australians are feeling confused and concerned about their finances, Suncorp has unveiled a new creative platform focused on making the complex simple. In a move that expands the brand beyond the sunshine state, Suncorp’s strategic approach is all about helping Australians focus on what they do […]

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive

For its first Australian campaign, Champion has partnered with creative and content agency Emotive to launch a music program titled ‘Revealed’. The program champions emerging Australian artists by intimately telling their story through video, and providing funding and creative support to create world class music videos for new release music. The first Revealed artist is […]

Finalists (And Host) Announced For Siren Awards 2018
  • Media

Finalists (And Host) Announced For Siren Awards 2018

Finalists for the best radio ad for 2018 have been announced, with 10 of Australia’s leading agencies from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth competing for the coveted Gold Siren. The finalists include The Monkeys, Clemenger BBDO, Marketforce, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, BMF, McCann, YR, Fenton Stephens, and The Brand Agency. One half of last year’s winning […]

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India
  • Marketing

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India

Australian-owned call analytics provider Delacon has continued its international expansion, opening an innovation centre in India to service local and global partners, and develop the next generation of call tracking and analytics solutions. The office in Chennai is the eighth for the Sydney-headquartered business, which enables brands and agencies to optimise marketing campaigns by accurately […]

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It
  • Marketing

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It

Sydney brand and digital agency Protein has been appointed to handle the retail and digital roll-out of recycling company Return-It, which has just been announced as the container collection network for the ACT. Return-It awarded the work to the 17-year strong agency, following Protein’s tender support and brand development of the retail concept. The public-facing […]

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure
  • Opinion

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure

This is an excellent article about celebrating failure. Although, admittedly, we failed to get to the very end of it.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt

Kimmie Neidhardt doesn't just have a very cool name, as you'll read here. There's a good head on those shoulders, too.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has announced the promotion of Nathan Soulsby to head of TV sales for Sydney. The announcement comes after Kristen Budd’s move to general manager of SCA’s Central Coast office. Caretaking the role during Budd’s maternity leave, Soulsby has been a key contributor to the consistent share and revenue growth that has […]