No, this is not an age of media awareness but one of self-reflexive anxiety wherein we have begun to fear the media’s capacity to distort us against our will. The scandals and indignities are fueled by a secret fear that we would appear just as bizarre, inadequate, grotesque, or pathetic when transformed into a keyhole miniature. As we have begun to leave a caricatured trail of ourselves across the world’s server farms, enmity and paranoia have sprung up alongside the realization that the formerly anonymous me-and-you are also visible in these warping pools of coerced hallucination. It is as if we are watching ourselves become ghosts, and it is scary.
This effect has an eerie socio-political mirror, with the entrapping net of social fantasy selves coinciding with a decade of jobless stagnation in which corporate productivity accelerated to the financial diminution of most, a circumstance which was covered over by a slackening of lending standards. The compulsion to see one’s self as a thing that could be reinvented in a new hub or home, one’s consumption affiliations carefully curated to deliver an impression of desirability was widespread. In context, it was a compulsion that we could not honestly have acted on without accepting on some level it was self-deception. At a certain point the credit-leveraged effort to remake ourselves becomes a ploy that is more about manipulating other people into accepting our hollow coquetry as truth.
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