Just Drink Tea
Strategies for Coping with the Digital Colonization of Mind and Body
Digitalization has rapidly changed our lives and our consciousness as witnessed by the fact that today it is not unusual to spend more time in virtual than in “real” spaces. It even seems that highly complex big data algorithms are much more accurate and capable than we ourselves are, even of defining what we are, what we want and even what we will become. Out of a mostly intangible mixture of fascination, anxiety, discomfort and curiosity, we are quietly giving over the responsibility for our own future to these logarithms and the people that control access to them.
We are experiencing a similar cataclysmic process of change to that of the industrial revolution. Our work and creative practices are being taken over by machines and we are drawn into a digital world where the new forms of social life, which we turn to for the authentication and meaning of existence, are caught in a vortex of manipulation. Both the public workspace and the private social space are at risk of dissolving into the unknown, and we are, for the most part, eagerly participating in their dissolution uncritically and without a plan. We do this simply out of convenience or out of social pressure or a lack of imagination or courage. And this very lack that prevents us from critically assessing the digital revolution may very well be the result of a digital colonization of mind and body. We are being threatened by the oppression of the essential tools we have “traditionally” used for defining reality: sense perceptions and whole body integrated movement; experiential based memory and reasoning; and imaginative visions that have not been created or augmented digitally. Could it be that the colonizing of today will, in the future, require the same kind of rethinking and ethical reworking that contemporary postcolonial critique has applied to modernity?
Asking this question does not require a denial of the digital era and its conveniences or a dystopian discourse. However, it does suggest a critical interest in developing self-determined strategies for dealing with digital realities from the perspective of a human self and not an artificial intelligence. It also suggests anticipating, and perhaps even averting, some of the need for future regeneration by establishing avant-garde practices that deal proactively with digital colonization.