Weathering the Digital Storm

We are living in a digitized reality. Our contact with things is fast fading away. We are consuming and relating a digital order. Philosopher Byug-Chul Han declares that the age of objects is over and we have entered the age of nonobjects. Our world has become less tangible and more informatizing. Digitized nonobjects are entering our world displacing objects that made our world. Nonobjects are digitized objects and as such they are information objects. The information resides in Google Earth and the Cloud. Our world is fast becoming cloudy and ghostly. No thing is substantive.

Everything is fast fading into oblivion. We living in a progressive winter of forgetting. Digitized information disembodies reality. It materializes and desubstantializes our world. It also eliminates our memory. O We outsource our memory to digital machines like computers and smartphones. We store data and information. We have become infomaniacs. Infomania rules our world. It makes our reality disappear. Digitization makes object lose their Das Ding. Our Smart Phone becomes information processing machine for digital actors or nonobjects. Objects do not spy on us. We trust them. But the Smart Phone is a nonobject. It spies on us and renders us vulnerable to Big Data Analytics.

Facebook only gives us the like button. There is no dislike button on Facebook. Byug-Chul Han says that the Smart Phone is a new rosary in our hands. To like is to pray in the digital world. He says we continue going for confession. But we no longer ask for forgiveness. We are asking for attention. We are no longer attracted to objects but are all the time attached to their digital incarnation. We are becoming data/ information and mirror ourselves in the nonobjects of the digital world. There is increasing talk of data-sexuals. Tapping and touching the Smart Phone is seen as a substitute for sex.

The Smart Phone amplifies our ego. Our libidinal energies are unleashed on the Smart Phone. What we like we zoom. What we don’t like we swipe away. We seem to have the world at our fingertips. The Smart Phone opens our narcissistic zone. What is available on the Smart Phone is consumable. What is not available, the real objects of our world are lost. It is this disappearance of the other that makes the Smart Phone users lonely. Perhaps, we need the Angel of in-action of Walter Benjamin to save ourselves from this digital storm. We need Buddha-like contemplation to hold our fingers from rushing inadvertently on to the screen of our Smart Phones.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao