The total loss of electrically-generated power experienced by millions during the Blizzard of 2010 has revealed a simple fact about 21st Century humans: we rely exclusively on media-driven technology - the Internet, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, broadcast and cable television - to construct our social identities.
Debord was right. He predicted over 40 years ago that not only would our interpersonal relationships become dependent upon our ready and casual use of images, i.e., the spectacular, but that our understanding and extension of Enlightenment ideas about the “Self” would morph into a malignant reliance on image-gadgetry, jpegs and downloads to construct our individual “lives.”
With the loss of basic power that occurred this week throughout the Northeastern United States, total separation from favored and addictive web sites, media outlets and laptops resulted in a fear of self-awareness. Beings who had avoided one-to-one connections with other humans by referencing, citing, texting and sharing stories, gossip and infotainment through the corporate media-controlled spectacle were now forced to turn inward to their solitary psyches and they were unprepared for the attention required.
The result has been a kind of cold turkey withdrawal typically expressed as a “cabin fever” dementia; we can’t stand the quiet, darkness is oppressive, we must “get out.”
Resultant aberrant and socially useless behavior like skiing city streets or mass snow-ball fights only avoids the key issue - without our “power” we are not prepared to talk to one another face-to-face, or read a Printed Page, or spend time with our own thoughts. We would rather power up, up-link, log-on and commence the Endless Download so that we can continue circulating and recycling our media-constructed identities in what has become the semblance of a “life.”