The Internet of Things: The Technologies of the Self and the Sites of Resistance

The Internet of Things is growing spreading and its web all over the globe. We cannot escape it. How do we respond to it? How do we resist its bad effects? Maybe care of the self as taught by Michel Foucault could be the way to depoliticize the effects of society of control. It can generate counter-power. But the care of self cannot die into excessive individualism. The shadow of solipsism is always lurking and it is a paradox that one has to continuously be aware of its dangers. The care of the self, therefore, is a self-rule that avoids the temptation of an egology. Foucault has linked the care of self to the practices of freedom. The practice of resistance that we need to the entangling power of the Internet of Things requires practices of freedom rooted in the care of the self. This means we have the challenge to embrace reflexive practices of the care of the self which develop reciprocal relations with the others of the self and builds solidarity for collective resistance against the growing network of society of control. Foucault gives ontological priority not to the self ( that would be an egology). He gives ontological priority to the relation to oneself (self to itself) . Thus, to him there is no relation with the other without the relation of the self to itself. This means there is not excessive focus on the self.

The attention to the technologies of the self is very important to be able to de-politicize the impact of the disciplinary power of Internet of Things. For Foucault, the technology of the self are those techniques which enables or lets a person to effect, by their own means or with the help of other people, a certain operations on their bodies, on their souls, on their thoughts or their own conduct, and this in a manner transform themselves or to attain a certain state of happiness, of perfection, of purity etc. Foucault seem to look at these processes of subjection and subjectification as truth acts. Truth acts are the acts of the subject where the subject is at once an actor, witness and object of the manifestation of truth. Foucault thinks the confession as the purest manifestation of truth acts or alethurgy. I find that the dsicplinary power of the truth acts can be subverted in a society of control and may enable us to resist it when truth acts are chosen by the self in freedom and awareness to reject the lures of the webs of the Internet of Things. Truth acts and their alethurgic forms can become a cultivation of self that cares not to submit itself to the entanglements of the internet of things. This means we are to become subjects of the truth of the self that is generating a counter-power that will resist the society of control. This process of subjectivation and subjection to the truth is one that frees us from entanglements of the society of control .

The cultivation of the relationship of the self to self can become a site resistance to the oppressive sides of the Internet of Things. This means our forms of truth acts can become acts of resistance. The way the individual in solidarity with other individuals conducts himself/ herself can become a counter-power that will depoliticize the subjectivation introduced by societies of control. The practices of self-examination/ self-policing and confession can become practices of resistance if they become guided by a hermeneutics of a resisting self. The same techniques of the self used by disciplinary societies can be consciously employed by the self to resist societies of control.

We need the quest for self-mastery, tranquility of the soul and purity of the body and mind sought by the ancient Greeks. As the circumstances have changed self-mastery that we are seeking is one that resists the master’s discourse and the master signifier of the society of control. We, therefore, have to continuously heed to the call to know ourself. There cannot be self-mastery without the practice of self-examination in the Pythagorean and even in the Christian sense. The subject in this context in relation to himself/herself is both the accused and the judge where the subject seeks ways and means of setting oneself free from the society of control. The truth acts of the self does not have to embrace truth telling confession described by Seneca or that of Christianity. The truth acts of the self are not simply verbal articulations of resistance but a conscious and careful engagements with the Internet of Things by employing it to built little movements, protests that people do to seek emancipation. This is how the individual can be a node or truth force that binds the people in their resistance to the oppression as will as intrusion of powerful forces in their life. Thus, we have to embrace the truth acts of the ancient Greeks and that of Christianity. We have the challenge to avoid the trap of the master/ disciple truth game of both cultures. What we are really interested in is the way in which the resisting subject and his/her truth act can become a locus where truth can appear and act as real force emancipating and transforming Individuals enslaved by the society of control. Thus, the technology of self care becomes a technology of emancipation.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao