Letter34

Thank you for inviting me to participate in your project ‘Life Needs Internet’. I think that it’s rather the other way around: Internet needs life. There are still hundreds of companies around the world who beg for our input. You can upload anything for free, ‘like’ something and click on everything while as much (private) information as possible is generated, linked to a profile and is resold. It’s always good to go offline, to test the extent to which one is addicted to the Internet and smart phones, games, TV, etc.

I think of this primarily as a kind of training, a new kind of 21st century sport of self-control that sharpens the senses and polishes the synapses. Peter Sloterdijk writes extensively about this in his book ‘Du mußt dein Leben Ändern’. He proposes a new ‘anthroposophist technique’ that time and again has to be done. The training must be an exercise that you do every day. It’s of interest for our monotasking and focusing: it’s more than just an understanding. The self must constantly be retrieved.

For that reason alone I do not believe in offline as a solution. What matters is incorporating our (already very busy) daily life. How do we do this with our communication technology since they are mobile, small and have become real-time? Awareness is important since we have to assume that these products are rapidly settling into our habits and will be part of our collective ‘techno- unconscious’. It’s called mindfulness in enlightened social circles.

It is not a matter of pro and cons, black or white, but critical reflection on the (intimate) operation of these networks, social media, web 2.0 or whatever it may be called. Art projects (like this), can contribute to this, but also alternative software and platforms and research and education that go beyond the mere instruction as to how it works and what you can do with it.