According to the 2020 docudrama, The Social Dilemma, our very addiction to “social media” has, today, become encapsulated in the tensions between its facilitation as a mode of interpersonal communication and as an insidious conduit for machine learning, surveillance capitalism and manipulation. Amidst a variety of interviewees – many of whom are former employees of social media companies – the documentary finishes on a unanimous conclusion: something must change. By using the docudrama as a pertinent example of our “social media malaise,” and while remaining aware of the problems and unethical practices encompassing international digital/social media companies, this paper will argue that we continually refrain from the very question(ing) that would call these companies to account: what does the algorithm desire? In approaching this question, this article will draw from Lacan’s ‘hysterical’ position in accordance with Robert Pfaller’s notion of interpassivity. Together, these concepts will be used to provide a psychoanalytic account of how our subjectivization in social media renders an unconscious endorsement that both frames our awareness of the dilemmas encompassing social media, while also positing an inherent limitation that may offer a possible path out of its impeding affects. This subjective ambivalence – delegated yet reluctantly disavowed – offers an opportunity to realign discussions on the lost object of desire (objet a) and its reproduction in social media algorithms. In so doing, the case will be made that an account of interpassivity can help lay bare the hysterical significance underscoring our digital subjectivization.
"“Love Thy Social Media!”: Hysteria and the Interpassive Subject."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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