Less is more – the infomania that grips us

Image: Pascal Küffer
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By MARILIA PACHECO FIORILLO*

The digital universe has become a nightmare paradise and, more often than not, a cult of stupidity

1.

The digital universe is a nightmare paradise: the opioid epidemic (such as fentanyl) that today kills more people than some wars has only one parallel, equally deadly: the pathological addiction to digital networks.

This is the opinion of the German-based Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han, who in his book Non-things -turns in the world of life, warns of the insidious and extremely high risk that the digital universe will destroy humanity faster than the climate crisis, for example. For Byung-Chul Han, we live overwhelmed and exhausted by blowpipes of information, most of which are lies, which turns us into disoriented and narcissistic zombies. The tangible world is confused with the virtual world, generating a depressed, brutish and brainless society. It is the “fatigue society”.

The obsession with sharing information and data (especially private) turns us into “infernomaniacs” submerged in a whirlwind of stimuli that corrode our stability and tranquility, eliminating small daily rituals, the necessary pause for reflection, contemplation, conviviality.

“At the beginning of digitalization, it was dreamed that it would replace work with play. In fact, it ruthlessly exploits the human drive for gambling,” says Byung-Chul Han. And the greatest device of subjugation, surveillance and surreptitious control is the smartphone/cell phone, at the same time a prison and a digital confessional. The cell phone in your hand is the contemporary rosary. And the likes They are the digital amen.

In Aldous Huxley's novel Admirable new world, totalitarianism did not operate through explicit violence, but through the administration of a pleasure drug, “soma”, which made everyone happy little lambs. This is the digital universe, a powerful anesthetic. This is in the medium term. In the short term, the digital network has proven to be a powerful tool for fraud, scams, fraud, financial crimes and even murder traps.

2.

Note the case of Elon Musk versus Minister Alexandre de Moraes, as it became known, but which could be concisely defined as the agonizing struggle between the anything goes (if anyone can save) of cyber economic power versus the legal and legitimate shields for the protection of the citizen-internet user.

Invoking freedom of expression, the current mantra of the far right, is beyond ridiculous. It's strange, outrageous. It used to be the typical cry (with a calm pronunciation and stilted elocution) of the “caviar right”, the one that jealously wields legal technicalities when it comes to saving the skin of “unblemished girls” or outcasts – nothing different, almost 50 years later, from the thesis of the “legitimate defense of honor” that acquitted Doca Street, confessed killer of Ângela Diniz.

Doca Street had simply expressed an understandable lack of control, “under strong emotion” in the face of a fatal woman provocative – killed “for love”. There was no X, tik, insta and the like. If there were, the decision would be applauded by millions of followers.

The extreme right-wing motorcyclists learned exactly from caviar, except for grammar and syntax (consider “conge” and the massacre of the verb to exist), but who cares about the Portuguese language, because not even content matters, if it’s not bilious? She uses the same protein technicalities to make her own, such as releasing big criminals without an ankle bracelet, as long as they are wealthy.

It's all lhano (ops, word “caviar”), upright, unblemished, perfectly compulsion in the paragraphs, paragraphs and between the lines of the law. Because the law is for everyone, right? Meanwhile, right-wing social networks gain muscle and rejoice!

It's past time to combat this predatory “infomania” (swallowing without digesting) with the only weapon we have: not giving in to scandalous and insulting digital arrows, those that go viral the most. It's about blocking and avoiding contagion. Even when the good intention is to mock absurdities, the boomerang effect ends up being to multiply them. Yes, sensationalism is tempting and attractive, juicy and almost irresistible, it winks at us... and that's precisely why it attracts and makes you sick as quickly as crack.

Let's throw in the trash what doesn't come from credible sources, and celebrity gossip (in the past they were celebrities, as they had some talent besides calling themselves influencers).

We are tired of knowing the devastating effects of this asocial media: the number of youth suicides it causes, the tons of hate it instigates, the megatons of lies and slander. Not to mention sexual abuse, pedophile networks, criminal businesses, assassination of reputations or instant drug purchases, notably opioids that generate astronomical profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

3.

But not everything in the digital universe is the cult of stupidity.

In an article published in the newspaper The Washington Post on February 8 of this year, a group of economists from the universities of Chicago, Berkeley and Cologne (Köln/Germany) measured how much people would pay for these platforms to disappear from the map. Result: most would pay well, as they thought they would not lose anything if they were left without them. Elementary: we are bombarded with such a volume and speed of false, stupid and useless (although not harmless) information that the current rampant infomania (accumulating, accumulating, obsessively accumulating what falls into the network) leaves us no time to select, ignore and, most importantly, , think.

That's it for information. When it comes to consumerism, the position is reversed. The newly wealthy would pawn their souls to acquire a Rolex and not feel like a loser in front of their neighbor, cousin or friend who sports this or other brands. It's not exactly what they want. It's just that 'not having' would turn them into pariahs in their social circle. What a mequetrefe, mixed-up, tacky and perverse Faustian pact. This was called greed (desiring only out of impulse to imitate). And worse, the neighbor's Rolex is probably fake.

Less is more. More reliable, safe and profitable. And more chic, even.

*Marilia Pacheco Fiorillo is a retired professor at the USP School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP). Author, among other books, of The exiled God: brief history of a heresy (Brazilian Civilization).


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