César Rendueles’s Sociophobia: Political Change in the Digital Utopia is one of the books I’ve read for my study of neoliberalism. It’s a really great book that I highly recommend. Rendueles mocks wide-eyed digital utopists with the brutality that they richly deserve. I want to offer a couple of quotes to illustrate:
“The Internet, I argue, is not a sophisticated laboratory in which delicate strains of the communities of the future are being developed but is instead a rundown zoo housing the decrepit forms of age-old problems that still haunt us, though we prefer not to see them” (26).
“Judging by its impact on the media, an update to Twitter’s timeline is received as a social change as fundamental as the Neolithic Revolution” (27).
“The Internet may be the embodiment of the public sphere, but in that case we would have to accept that the objective of civil society is amateur porn and cat videos. This is not anecdotal. Empirical studies systematically find that the Internet limits cooperation and political critique rather than stimulating it” (38).
The central idea of the book: Neoliberalism adopted sociophobia as a social norm, and smartphones, apps, Facebook and Twitter are helping spread sociophobic tendencies.
This is in tune with Bauman’s ideas about the erosion of sociability and sociality in the service of liquid capital.
Great book, highly recommended.