Jan. 18th: Benjamin Fong, “Aggressivity, Social Media, & the Crisis of Thinking”


January 18, 2018

Benjamin Y. Fong joins the Serious Times Lecture Series to discuss technology and the crisis in thinking today.

This talk examines the role that social media play in our current social and political predicament, even among those seeking to change the situation. The fantasy of social media as a magical tool of social connection contrasts starkly with its reality as a cesspool of vicious personal attacks and paranoid indignation. It demonstrates a psychopathic character contradiction: an obsession with self-perception by others in combination with a disturbing lack of empathy toward many of those same others from whom one is seeking, implicitly or explicitly, validation. The ills of social media are not only problems; they are also “solutions” to historically specific and much larger social problems. The elemental desire for a community of mutually recognizing individuals, when made to shortcircuit the dialectic of its satisfaction, serves to eradicate the basic conditions of thought. Like itching, they provide a form of relief that ultimately only exacerbates the problem.

Benjamin Y. Fong is an assistant professor of Honors at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University and the author of Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Late Capitalism (Columbia UP, 2016). He has published in The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society; he has written for The New York Times and Jacobin; he is an editor of Damage magazine.

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