Archive for rant

Surveys Must Stop: An Open Letter to the MySpace “Community”

Posted in Rants with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by xugro

[This post is a letter I posted a few years ago in response to the excess of surveys I received on MySpace.]

Dear Friends, Acquaintances and MySpaceSters:

I am (edit: was) a “community” member, or rather a concerned citizen, and I have decided to write an open letter in order to rectify what seems to be a horrendous situation that monstrously drains the time, body and spirit of one and all. Of what evil do I speak? What fiendish brute, you may ask, so consumes and enervates whomever he may touch? Look no further, friends, than in your own mirrors. The face of terror lies not abroad but in your own home or workplace.
Surveys may seem innocuous, yet are clearly symptomatic of a larger lack of ideological engagement and false consciousness that the internet provides us. What survey have you received that asked what your favorite medieval hermeneutician was? What survey has ever taught you anything beyond fickle facts? What survey has made you stop and think about class consciousness? Not one, I would wager. Imagine that you receive two surveys a week–given, this is a low estimate–that you read (10 mins) and to which you likewise respond and re-post (5-10 minutes). Our consequent estimate of 20 minutes per week, again erring on the low side of things, adds up to an hour to an hour and a half a month, or 12-18 hours a year. For more egregious surveymongers, this number should be at least doubled if not trebled. Now let us conjure up some other figures. At the rate
of 15-20 pages an hour, most contemporary novels will take 10-20 hours to read in all. Longer novels are an exception, yet even at 80 hours it requires less than 25% of the lesser surveymongers’ time. Moreover, reading knowledge of another language can be acquired in about 40-50 hours. Thus the time spent on surveys, while seeming harmless, can consequently be seen to have negative effects on the user’s general and specific knowledge as well as educational and cultural level.
What, you will reply, is the problem with wasting time? After all, Bataille described the notion of expenditure as necessary to the proper functioning of the capitalist economy. Waste and excess are a natural part of everyday life. Why won’t you allow us

to continue in our disavowed and fragmentary worldview and allow our imaginary to be colonized yet further by the spectacle? We know how things really are, but we are doing it anyway. I answer: This disavowal is perhaps one of the most typical aspects of homo hipsterus (or femina hipsterica), whose cynicism is only equalled by her actual political apathy. You may know how things really are–a fanatical and paranoid fundamentalist government in power, rampant poverty, de facto inequality for minorities, inter alia–yet your ideological jouissance enables you to take no action. As Zizek has written, “What [people] overlook, what they misrecognize, is not the reality but the illusion which is structuring their reality, their real social activity. They know very well how things really are, but they are doing it as if they did not know” (The Sublime Object of Ideology 32). Here it is important to recognize Zizek’s fascinating inversion of Marx’s classic formula of false consciousness: “‘Ideological’ is not the ‘false consciousness’ of a (social) being but this being itself in so far as it is supported by ‘false consciousness.’” (Ibid., 21).

You will ask if I really want you to learn French, read newspapers or novels, or become politically active. I will respond with the following: “Dude. Check out my vintage jacket and ironic t-shirt; behold my collection of ‘cult’ band mp3s; take in the magnificence of my cynicism; revel, finally, in the impossibility of everything.”

I received three surveys while writing this message.